The Way of Jesus is Better
Jesus is the ultimate prize.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
When you are watching the World Cup, do you shout, sing, or yell at the referees? Do you enjoy the adrenaline rush of competition?
Do games and tournaments bring out the best in you? Are there some aspects of competing that can be negative? This Summer, the nations have their eyes and hearts focused on one particular soccer championship. There are many spiritual lessons to be gleaned as you consider specific elements of the World Cup.
A clear goal
In the World Cup, each country wants to return home as national heroes and the best soccer team on earth. Teams train for four years with intense aspirations. What does success look like for you in life? Do you have goals you are trying to achieve? Many people do not recognize their purpose, and consequently conform to the patterns of the world. In Jesus, you have been given a new identity and a compelling vision for your life. The apostle Paul writes, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) God is with you, and He also goes ahead of you to set up unique opportunities just for you. Every day is a gift from God, and you have incredible abilities and timely situations that He has given you to make a difference in this world. Helping an orphan or a widow can be far more significant than playing in the World Cup in God's eyes. When you make being faithful to Jesus your ultimate goal each day, God will do wonderful works through you, and many lives will be transformed. God will give you everything you need to accomplish what He asks you to do.
A new strength
Many athletes attempt to be self-reliant. They have no source of power greater than what they can muster up themselves. It is common to go through life with the illusion of self-sufficiency. People stop acknowledging God as the giver of their life and talent. Pride swells. Egos grow. Boasting abounds. Is there a different option? The truth is your God-given assignments cannot be accomplished on your own strength, but relying on God will give you the perseverance, patience, hope, insights, and love you truly need. Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) Are you still trying to call the shots, or have you given Jesus the steering wheel of your life? Make a decision today to honor Jesus in every aspect of your life and ask God for help to live out what you truly believe. There is no higher goal in life than to glorify Jesus, who is your source of strength.
An attitude shift
All participants in a competition want to win. When there is a title and a trophy on the line, motivation runs high. Even children want to finish in first place and beat their opponents. However, on the field, there are different guidelines than other arenas of life. One danger about competition is that it can promote a me-first attitude. Selfishness can destroy families, friendships, and work environments. Jesus models a life of humility for us. Matthew writes, "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Your attitude should be the same as Jesus, looking for ways to care for people and putting others first. Real love sacrifices, serves, and is marked by generosity.
There is a competition every day between good and evil, God and the devil, and light versus darkness. When you make it your primary goal to be faithful to Jesus, rely on the Holy Spirit, and seek to serve people you will consistently win. You can have confidence in God as you declare: "Thanks be to God! He has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Pray this week:
God, I pray that I would be fully reliant on you. You are the vine; I am the branches. May I remain in you and draw everything from you -- not trying to do anything by my own power. I am powerless. Fill me with your Spirit to go out and serve others in the name of Jesus Christ. I love you! Amen.
Who can you serve this week?