I went to a high school basketball game last night with a long time KIVU family. I had a BLAST!! It's been a while, and I absolutely loved it. (I used to play basketball in high school…imagine that!)
I sat on the bleachers surveying the talent on the floor, listening to the parents, and trying to cheer on my friend Dean. He's AWESOME!!
As the game went along, I noticed the parents started evolving into something different than they appeared at the beginning. When I marched up the bleachers at the beginning of the game, everyone was kind, welcoming, and expressing good pleasantries; but about halfway through the 2nd quarter, it was getting a little loud.
One dad in front of me was standing up, shouting, and belittling the other team. It was CRAZY. His team was up by 20 points in the middle of the third quarter, and he started screaming for full court press, and more…more….more….more. It was like a wolf ravenging on fresh meat. Or, almost like a virus was let loose in the stands, and these parents were infected with hatred for the kids wearing a different color jersey.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not going to write about the need for us all to be friends while playing the basketball game, but my question is simple….Where has the civility of competition gone? Why do we have to hate the other team with loud shouts of vulgarity in order to achieve VICTORY at all costs?
I had a similar story when I coached my 6 year old's soccer team.
I was bent on the fact we were going to win at all costs. I had the kids running wind sprints, setting up specific inbound plays, and really rode them hard. I thought, "I'm going to teach these kids what the real world is like, and WE ARE GOING TO WIN WIN WIN WIN!!"
As I reflect back on that time in my life, I wonder how much I really gave those kids. After all, they were only 6. It wasn't like they were ever going to connect the dots between competition and life skills. They were 6!
I see teenagers all the time who have been trained in this hatred for what I call the "Us vs. Them" syndrome. They identify the "other" team in every area of life, and everything that comes from their life is ordered to crush "them." I think this kind of thinking has invaded our church culture too, and often becomes somewhat of a spiritual battle of competition.
That Church has a ____________
They get out at _____________
That pastor does ____________
And so we turn our spiritual lives into these pseudo wars of the will. It's like a corporate board trying to compete with all the other churches in town. My question is simple…when did spiritual virtue become a competition we can judge one person against another? Have we allowed a bleed over from our Friday Night High School games to rule the state of the Union of our spiritual growth?
Again, I'm all for a good time.
I love playing games.
I love winning games.
But have we allowed competition to rule the most important game of life?
I sure am glad Jesus isn't into competition. I am happy to sit in the seat of grace, knowing I can't do anything to receive His mercy on my life. The Free gift of salvation, offered to me in my lowest, most awful part of life, is…well, exactly how Paul described it. "For by Grace you have been saved through faith, not of your works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8)
My boasting of my relationship with God can only come by His power in my life. I can't perform good enough. I can't score enough spiritual points. I can't call on God to bless me more than the next guy. I'm at His beckoning, and I'm so happy to share that with those around me.
By Grace through Faith…there is no boasting here other than the power of God unto His Salvation.
Today I ask you…Are you living in Spiritual Competition?
Be set free today, and learn what it means to be a 'part of the body of Christ.' We can achieve so much more together, than we can apart!