Impact and Glory
One way or another, we all have an impact on other people. Some of you will make an impact on others through your success. That’s obvious. But others of you will make an impact just as deep through your suffering. The pain of suffering can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological. But you can be sure of this—your life will make an impact on somebody. Whether than impact is positive or negative depends on the way you live. The way you live will either inspire or dishearten others. Either way, you’re going to impact lives.
Last week I started reading For the Glory, a biography of the life of Eric Liddell. You may remember the 1981 Academy Award winning film, Chariots of Fire, which told the story of Eric Liddell, a Scottish missionary, and Harold Abrahams, a British Jew. Both were celebrated runners on the 1924 British Olympic team. Each won a gold medal. But the star athlete was Paavo Nurmi of Finland. He won nine gold medals. All of these men made an impact on the world. And as I read the book, Liddell is making a deeper impact on me. His devotion to God was amazing. And the glory that he brings to God through winning the gold in the 400 meters is inspiring—deeply inspiring. But there is someone Eric Liddell speaks of whom he declares to be a true hero. Someone you’ve never heard of—Henry Stallard.
Stallard only won a bronze medal in those Olympics. But what impressed Liddell was the way he won it. Stallard was the overwhelming favorite in the 800 meters. But Stallard had reinjured two old injuries to his right foot. He never told anyone about those injuries. He wanted to run the race. And so he did. Stallard got off to a blazing start. He led the pack through the first lap. He was in front on the final bend as they approached the homestretch. Then Stallard’s ankle gave way. As his teammate, Douglas Lowe zipped by, Stallard yelled encouragement to him: “Go on. Win it. You can do it.” Stallard, knowing he could not win the race, engineered Lowe’s success with a speedy first lap designed to tire the Americans.
Some time previous to these Olympic Games, Eric Liddell came to America to participate in an event held at the University of Pennsylvania. Prominently inscribed on the gate to the stadium were the following words that profoundly impacted Liddell: In the dust of defeat as well as in the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.
In his letter to a bunch of nobodies living in modern day Turkey, the Apostle Peter speaks words that will impact his friends, which will impact the world around them, and which will impact us. What are those words? Here they are:
13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Basically, what Peter is saying is this: It matters how you live, so live well. Others will be impacted. And God will be glorified.