Sport Principle 28: The podium performance contract

About the Sport Principle

In these days of sky-high expectations from the British public following three hugely successful Olympic Games from our athletes, and where there is more government money through agencies like Sport England funding sport than ever before, the podium performance (or elite performance) contract has become increasingly popular. The idea is that if a publicly funded body, using taxpayers’ money, is going to finance an individual or team to represent team GB, then they, and we as the public, have a right to expect them to deliver. They need to be accountable. Often a contract is drawn up that states simply what the minimum expectations are of both the elite athlete and the elite coaching staff. Both parties sign the contract and it is taken very seriously. The end result, of course, should be that the player will be standing on the medals podium at the next Olympic games. It does what it says on the tin.

Application to Life

God was the first to invent the podium performance contract. The Bible word for this is ‘Covenant.’ A Covenant is an agreement or a promise, or a contract, always made between God and His people, usually through one individual: an ‘Abraham,’ a ‘Moses’ or a ‘Noah’ etc. God has His part to keep: The provision of the promised land, numerous descendants, the rainbow in the sky as a statement that the whole earth will never be flooded again etc., and the people have their part of the deal to keep: obedience to God’s Law as an example to the nations, circumcision of all male children on the 8th day after birth as a sign of the Covenant, etc. The main difference between these Covenants and a standard contract of the sort you might have with your mobile phone company of course, is that the Biblical Covenants were initiated by God in love. (You sign your phone contract, or any other for that matter, because they give you the best deal – a very different reason!) God’s Biblical podium performance contracts, or Covenants, if you will, culminated with the mother of all contracts – the New Covenant, sealed in Jesus’ blood, as He died on the Cross for us, and then rose again, beating sin and death forever, wow! God has done His part. It’s now over to us to keep our side of the bargain: And our side of the deal today is pretty similar to what it was for the Jews as they wandered through the wilderness under Moses’ leadership all those centuries ago. Our job today, as theirs then, can be summarised in one word: Obedience. We are simply required to be obedient to Jesus. And amazingly, having done everything necessary and more by sending Jesus to die for us, God, even then, doesn’t leave us alone, but rather sends His Holy Spirit to help us live out that obedience in our lives. Thank God He does because we simply couldn’t do it by ourselves, especially when we consider some of the outrageous demands Jesus makes. Not only: “Do not murder” as the old covenant said, but now, being angry with your brother is like you’ve murdered him in your heart! Not only the old covenant: “Do not commit adultery,” but now, if you even think it, that’s just as bad! This really is an elite performance contract. Let us redouble our efforts today to live as men of God’s New Testament Covenant in His strength, so that on that day we can hold our heads high on the podium of God’s grace, having qualified for that greatest prize of all: Eternity with God Himself.

“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”

Genesis 17:7

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