|'M A LOSER. So are you.|
Really, we all are losers. We can't win. We can try, but when you look up at the scoreboard when it's all over, we haven't even covered the point spread. Those who think they've won are the biggest losers of all.
This comes from someone who has a hard time not keeping score. I've always kept score, which is fine when it comes to sports, but it doesn't work so well in real life, despite what others may think.
I say I'm a loser because I can never defeat Satan. He's too much to overcome. It's like a Pop Warner team against the Pittsburgh Steelers, only the kids have a much better shot of winning than I do.
People still have this notion that being good enough -- earning enough points, if you will -- will satisfy God. It may ease a person's conscience, but that's it. They may think they're winners -- and some of them will even use that word in the same smarmy tone you hear from overbearing dads in the movies -- but, no, sorry. The higher you think your assist-to-turnover ratio is, the lower it gets in reality. It's that whole inverse proportion thing.
I struggle daily with this, thinking that I can please God if I'll just be a better father, a better husband, a better witness, a better student of scripture. If I do everything coach says to do, I'll come out on top, and he'll reward me. Never mind if my heart's not in it.
There are plenty of athletes who work hard, but they work for themselves, not for the team. They may put up great numbers, but they're not doing those really important things that can make their teammates better and make the whole team more cohesive.
I'll not carry this metaphor any further, for fear of confusing myself when trying to write about winning championships. But I will say that the self-sacrifice required in both sports and in the Christian walk is a remarkably transferable value. Being a true Christian requires hard work, more than I'm often willing to do, and it must be in harmony with the body of Christ. Once you realize that, you then have to guard against thinking that the hard work you do is earning you some kind of favor from God.
God does not work with me; He works through me. Whatever I accomplish for Him is really Him accomplishing something, and He's been gracious enough to let me be an instrument.
So I guess there are two kinds of delusional scorekeepers -- the one who thinks he can do enough good to counter his sin, and the one who knows better but doesn't see the connection between mercy and being equipped to work for God. The latter often sees the score as "Me and God 100, Sin 0," or whatever. The bad half of the scoreboard is wiped clean, to be sure, but the other half bears God's name only.
We are losers on our own, yes, but we share in Christ's victory. He alone has the ability, through His sacrifice, to triumph over Satan and sin.
I'm still a loser, but God has granted me entrance into the winner's circle anyway.
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a sports journalist in Tupelo, Mississippi.
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