March 20, 2017
If you are a college basketball fan “March Madness” is your time of year. If you believe the numbers, almost half of the country will fill out a tournament bracket to try and predict the winner of college basketball’s premier event. As the tournament progresses there will be upsets and there will be thrilling last second shots, but ultimately the losing team goes home and the winner advances until there are only two teams left and the championship is decided. Even in the championship game, the team that will be remembered is the winner, no matter how great a season the second place team had or the hardships they faced to make it to the final game. The fact is, we live in a competitive society that frowns on losing. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is taught to every young athlete around the country, and around the world. It even seems that many people believe winning to be so important, that anything is right in order to reach victory.
So when we think about winning we like to think about the joy that comes when our team wins. Unfortunately, in our modern competitive society the loser somehow doesn’t deserve to be happy. The reality of life is that life is sometimes very cruel. There are times when we win and other times that we lose, and there are times of happiness and times of sadness. It is a lesson of life.
As Christians however, I like to think that we are in a unique position in the game of life. We know the final outcome of everything. We know that at the end of our days there awaits eternal life with Jesus. It would be like knowing in advance who would win the college basketball national championship, no matter what. Imagine how such knowledge would affect players, gamblers, and anyone with an interest in the game, if they knew what the outcome would be before the game was played? So if this is true with sports, why would we as Christians, even though we know the final outcome of life, often live our lives like we are losers? Why do we let our opponent (Satan) rob us of the joy of victory that is assured and has already been won?
In Philippians 3:7-9 the apostle Paul indicates that knowing Christ as His Lord and Savior was worth more than any other thing he could possess. “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” Paul was a winner because no matter what he got himself into, he could be thankful that Christ was being honored. Paul wrote more books in the New Testament than anyone else, he taught all of the major biblical doctrines in his writings, and he was the greatest of all Christian missionaries. His life still challenges us today, to work for the Lord without reserving or holding back any part of ourselves, no matter what we do or how we serve Him.
Paul sums up his attitude toward winning in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” When he said “all things”, he was not being boastful or proud, rather he was exalting Christ. He was giving glory for the victory to the one who had made it possible. God wants to use us as instruments for His own glory, and He will give us strength we will need for the task.
In March Madness an upset occurs when a lower seeded team beats a higher seed. There have already been some upsets in this year’s tournament and I’m sure there will be more. As believers, in culture that honors winners, we as Christ followers aren’t typically seeded high in the tournament of life and many might consider us losers. Our challenge is to live as Paul challenged the Philippians to live, with the strength that allows us to do “all things” through Christ.
The joy we have because we are winners in Christ is for eternity. We have the assurance that the price has been paid for our sin and we have been given His righteousness and will live with Him forever. If we can’t get excited about that, then we are acting like losers. I would challenge everyone in the Florida Christian family to act like a winner, because we are winners in Christ. We already know our ultimate destiny, so let’s celebrate the joy of winning every day, knowing what Jesus has already done for us. Let’s be excited about the life we have been given in Christ. Let’s model to our students a joyful attitude of victory in Jesus.
Have a winning week.