Thoughts on the Parade of Nations

Like I said on Friday, I really like the Olympics. While I know there are mixed opinions about the opening ceremonies, it is honestly one of my favorite parts of the games. Yes, it drags on a bit. Yes, it can be difficult to interpret at times. But there is something about the parade of nations that gets me every time. I will most likely never visit the majority of the countries who are represented at the Olympics, but for just a brief moment I get to learn a little about them. And I love that. I love seeing the faces of the people from obscure or underrepresented countries. They are so proud. They are so excited. They appreciate the moment in ways we Americans will probably never realize.

Friday's opening ceremonies made me want to study my map more. It made me want to learn about each country beyond mere sporting events and Olympic grandeur. As I watched each country march into Olympic stadium, I marveled at the God who is so creative to fashion such a beautiful diversity of people all made in his image. He could have made us all look exactly the same. But he didn't. Instead he created races, body types, physical distinctions, and so much more in such a way that he gets greater glory because of it. I'm glad everyone doesn't look like me. It makes me stop and praise our great God in even greater measure because of these beautiful distinctions.

But there is something even more profound that stayed with me from the opening ceremonies. One day every nation will bow not to their country's flag, but to King Jesus. Right now, every country represented wants nothing more than to make their country proud. As they marched into Olympic stadium they were defined by their nationality. Every country represented at the games will proudly display their flag for the duration of the games. While the games do unify the world like no other event, they also separate us in a sense. We are all rooting for our own country over these next seventeen days.

But one day the only thing that will define us is our relation to this coming King. Even affiliation with the greatest country on earth will fade away in light of the amazing glory of Jesus Christ. Jesus is making for himself a people, a new nation, who will worship him forever. As much as we are proud of our country of origin, as Christians, our calling to Christ is much greater.

While every one will bow to the King one day, some will bow by compulsion not worship. The parade of nations is a sobering reminder that many do not yet know this King. It is a reminder that the nations need to hear of this Jesus. And it is a reminder that all pomp, glory, and esteem will one day fade away in the unrelenting splendor of our coming King.

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
- Revelation 15:3-4