Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What is the chief end of man? (2)

Precisely how does one glorify and enjoy God? 

One example that came to mind is the Scottish athlete, Eric Liddell (1902-1945), subject of the movie "Chariots of Fire".  Eric was born to Scottish missionary parents in China in 1902. At the age of five, he was sent to England for his education--which was customary for missionary children in those days. At school, Eric exhibited exemplary character and was known for his strong Christian faith. He excelled in sports, becoming an Olympic Champion in the 400 metre race during the 1924 Paris Olympics. The 400 wasn't his best event; it was well known that the 100 metre race was his strongest.  He refused to run the 100 because it fell on a Sunday.  His view was that there were greater glories at stake than winning Olympic medals. 

In 1925, Eric returned to China as a missionary, following his parents' footsteps. He first taught in an elite college for wealthy Chinese students, with the intention of promoting Christian values in the influential circles of that society. At age 30, he was ordained and became a minister. In 1941, as the Japanese invasion made life increasingly dangerous in China, Eric sent his wife and three daughters back to the West. He himself stayed behind and joined his brother, who was a doctor at a rural mission station, to serve the poor. Eventually, the Japanese took over the mission station and in 1943, Eric was imprisoned at an internment camp. In the camp Eric became a leader, facilitating an orderly distribution of food, medicines and other supplies that often ran short. He also kept busy by helping the elderly and teaching the young Bible lessons. 

For Eric Liddell, the hardship during internment could have been avoided. As a well known athlete, Eric had an opportunity to leave the camp as part of a prisoner exchange between the British and the Japanese, but he gave up his place for another.

In all his life, whether in the comfort of the West or while in hardship serving others, Liddell glorified God by loving and serving sacrificially like Christ. 

But did he also enjoy God? It would seems so. Hear his famous words: "I believe that God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure".

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