Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Olympic Parable

The greatest thrills and joys come not from validations of our own self-worth, but from the sight and enjoyment of glory and greatness.

John Piper has shared many times this illustration (my paraphrase):
How many people go the Grand Canyon to look in the mirror and enhance their self-esteem? Not many. They go to see and drink in a greater glory outside themselves. And it is profoundly thrilling and satisfying.
His point is this: God's supremacy and transcendence is true, but it's also good news. We don't find the highest joys by looking in at ourselves. The greatest joys come from beholding and experiencing the glory of God (out there in the world and in the Word and in his Son).

The Olympics actually provide a window into this reality. Piper gave the following illustration at a Desiring God National Conference in 2006 (entitled “The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World," and found here):
What if we asked someone, “Would you want to watch a football game (or an Olympic event) where all the players were no better than you? Or watch a movie where the actors could act no better than you and were no better looking than you? Or go to a museum to see pictures by painters who could paint no better than you?” 
Why are we willing to be exposed in all these places as utterly inferior? How can we get so much joy out of watching people magnify their superiority over us? 
The biblical answer is that we were made by God to get our deepest joys not from being superior ourselves but from enjoying God’s superiority. All these other experiences are parables. God’s superiority is absolute in every way, which means our joy in it may be greater than we could ever imagine.

The greatest and highest good for our souls is not found in our souls. The path of joy is not lined with mirrors, but windows. The answer to our ache and longing is not self-esteem, but God-esteem, not self-glory, but self-forgetfulness. Things get really good when we stop trying to be the center of the universe, and start enjoying the fact that God is. 

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