What the World Cup Teaches Us
There are spiritual insights that relate to the dedication and repetition of the athletes in the World Cup.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
When you watch the beautiful game, do you notice the technical precision of the passing, dribbling, and shooting? Are you able to understand the systems, formations, and big picture strategies?
The individual craftsmanship and superb teamwork do not happen accidentally or quickly. There are spiritual insights that relate to the dedication and repetition of the athletes.
A goal can happen in seconds, but behind that goal are years of devotion. Decades of training, practices, coaching, and correction lead to inspiring displays. We live in a microwave culture that wants everything immediately. We can embrace the false notion that time is not necessary, and the results of an instant gratification mindset can be shallow. The spiritual life includes both the process and the end results. Paul explains, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) We are becoming more like Jesus, but this process includes learning and maturing. A relationship with God is mainly about your depth with Jesus. You cannot lead people where you have not been. Healthy roots produce good fruit.
Behind the scenes
Soccer players and teams become great on the practice field. Those settings can include at home in the backyard, in the streets, or at a park. Sadly, many Christians act very spiritual at church, but they have a double life when they are with friends and family, on the job, or in private when no one is looking. Teams that practice well and diligently are secure when it is time for the match. In the same way, Solomon points out: "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out." (Proverbs 10:9) Are you living a consistent life with Jesus? Do you need to repent of any secret sins? Have you fallen into the trap of trying to impress other people with your acts of righteousness?
When a soccer player plays terribly, it is comforting to move on to the next game. When we make terrible decisions, Jesus gives us mercy and forgiveness. Today is a new start. Receive God's grace in your mind and heart. Begin to cultivate new habits. Commit to attending church and serving each week. Join a Bible study. Spend some time each day with God in prayer and reading the Bible. Find a friend who will hold you accountable. Start sharing your faith and inviting people to church. Like sport, when you choose wise habits and guard them in your schedule, you will grow in exciting ways. Paul urges us, "Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Training does not always feel pleasant at the time, but the results in soccer and in the spiritual life are outstanding. Continue to honor the Lord in the little things, and God will produce massive results. The Holy Spirit will give you self-control. God can bring spectacular miracles and provision, but He often works in the routines and details of everyday life. God sees the big picture and is patiently transforming you with His love from the inside out.
Pray this week:
God, I pray that you would instill in me a work ethic that pleases and honors you. Give me good habits to learn more about you and rely more on you every day. Thank you, God, for your grace as I stumble and make mistakes while learning how to follow you more closely. In Jesus' name, amen.
What is one thing you can do daily to grow closer to Jesus?