The Bible doesn’t mention baseball, basketball, or football, but God has something explicit to say about the Olympics. The ancient Games were common knowledge in the first century, just as the modern Olympics are today. For more than a millennium, the Games happened every four years in Greece. Everyone knew about the Olympics. “Everyone who competes in the games,” writes the apostle Paul, “exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:25, NASB).
God wants Christians to see through the Games to ultimate reality. Paul, explains John Piper, took the well-known Olympics and
taught the Christians to transpose them into a different level, and to see in the Games a reality very different than everyone else is seeing. He said in effect, “The Games are played at this level of reality. They run at this level. They box at this level. They train and practice and deny themselves at this level. They set their sights on the gold at this level.
“Now I want you to see all that at another level. I want you to transpose the temporary struggles and triumphs of the Olympic Games onto a different level of reality — the level of spiritual life and eternity and God. When you see the athletes run, see another kind of running. When you see them boxing, see another kind of boxing. When you see them training and denying themselves, see another kind of training and self-denial. When you see them smiling with a gold medal around their neck, see another kind of prize.”
God means for us to discover truths about him, his world, and his salvation as we watch the Olympics. C.S. Lewis calls it “transposition” — taking God’s created realities, and the culture we humans make under God, and seeing through them to the ultimate reality. God has filled our world with pointers.