Remember playing youth soccer? Did you ever sit down and start picking dandelions in the field while the rest of the team chased the ball? I’m pretty sure I did during tee-ball playing outfield. I mean, no kid ever hit the ball over the infield, and my early childhood was before the days of sunflower seeds as a dugout staple, so I had to do something to pass the time!
I think God likes sports, and competition. At least a little. We are made in His image, right? And everywhere I’ve been in the world, people love sport. It’s somewhere inside us: to run and compete. Not only the innateness of sports in our being leads me to this little theory, but God’s Word is replete with sporty examples too. Paul talks about running the race, working out, and winning a prize. Joshua meets the Captain of the Host of the Lord and his first question is “whose side are you on?” (God’s on no team’s side, by the way). And Jesus, he loooooves to talk about victory. We love to sing about it. “Oh victory, in Jesus, my savior forever!” That’s best sung while swinging arms in a jovial march-like-fashion, in case you didn’t know... digression.
Jesus perhaps sums up victory best in this simple statement: “Be brave! I have defeated the world!” (John 16:33)
Let’s put it into a sports metaphor. And then insert ourselves. I’m in Europe, so I’ll use soccer. You can use whatever sport you like to play. If you don’t like sports, stop reading and check back next week.
Imagine you’re in a massive, galactic game of soccer. And you’re on the Jesus team. During the game, you huddle up and Jesus says this: “ok guys, here’s the deal: we win. I have it covered. When the final whistle blows, I guarantee a victory. I’ve already won it. Now let’s go!”
Coming out of the timeout, you’re struck with a perplexing choice: what do you do? The victory is guaranteed. Jesus said he already took care of it. So you could sit in the corner of the field picking dandelions and counting grass blades. At some point you’d get a crazy show of Jesus whipping around the field scoring goals. But what fun would that be, sitting? And Jesus didn’t say “go wait over there while I kick butt.” He said, “let’s go!” Wouldn’t it be a lot more fun to go out and play your part, catching a mid-field pass and booting it down the field? Slide tackling the bad guys for a shocking takeaway? You’re guaranteed the victory, so what is there to lose? Yeah, you may get hurt. Sure, the other team may score on you. But who’s on your team and there to encourage when that stuff happens? Jesus is.
I’ve begun to stretch my metaphor. I need to get back to the point.
Go. Play in the game. It doesn’t matter whether we kick the goals in or Jesus does, the results will be the same (hear that Calvinists? Armenians? silly squabbles over nothing... I’m stretching again, sorry). So go be a part of the victory. It’s more than worth it.
“Be brave! I have defeated the world!” -Jesus