The Winning Obsession

So the reader may think “What, is Kaiser going to tell us the only way to win is to follow Jesus”? Or perhaps “Oh-oh… he’s gonna kick our chops about always thinking we have to win all the time. So are we to be thoroughly happy and satisfied with losing instead? Good grief, what’s he thinking?!”You’d be pretty well right twice, but the second question and somewhat, conclusion are the core and likely more disturbing points.See, I think that in the entire world, and more so among many western nations, specifically in the U.S. of A. we are literally hell-bent (no pun intended) on winning, and winning in many cases no matter the cost to our opponents. Further, I think we often do not consider the cost to ourselves, our children and grandchildren or the rest of society, be they Christ-followers or not. The same applies to many, many Christian people.I am indeed thinking about current political situations in the U.S. and beyond, but even closer to heart, in all forms (yes- ALL forms) of Christian gatherings, relationships, families, marriages and even our individual relationship with God in Christ. We must wrestle with God and lose, die to self, learn to be compassionate to others even and especially when it seems we don’t get our way- which of course is in our view, always the “right” way, God’s way.If you’re wondering about it, yes, I’m talking to myself as well as the reader! Losing gracefully is important.Are you or I ever wrong? Do we ever speak or act before patient consideration of the results? Facing the truth of this -is- God’s way throughout His Word. Often such considerations are not part of our reality, nor are the needed humility and caution. I would argue neither of these are automatic pillars in American culture.A culture of continual “win” will in the end, lose. It will lose in part, due to the corruptability and therefore corruption of the people who begin to claim their chosen (and in many cases, “taught” and/or “learned”) culture or subculture as if it were somehow equal to the very canon of Scripture.NO culture should be given that place in the life of a Christ-follower. “Win” often boils down to control.In sports, for example, to win is nearly always to control the pace, the rhythm, the flow of the game. In American football the team that controls the line of scrimmage nearly always wins. In world football (soccer) the team who controls the play and has the greatest skill in keeping possession of the ball largely wins in the end. It’s the same in most sports. The companies that rather monopolize a given market are the one’s who seemingly win.My chosen computer operating system is Linux, not Windows or Mac. This has been the case for many years. There are a load of reasons why, but let me get to the point:I listen most Wednesday nights to a several-hour long computer show which is about ninety-five-percent about the major operating system’s failures on most every pc and laptop you’d care to mention. Meanwhile, I deal with perhaps a one-percent failure rate- and that mostly due to personal mistakes, not operating system failure. In this scenario, who is really and truly winning, the mainstream or alternative people using an alternative approach? Of course there’s a learning curve and this is where many people just swallow “the norm” and dig in, regardless of the inherent pain and train-wrecks of (even) the computer culture.A biblical, Christian culture is just that – it’s not merely a “human” culture or subculture. Biblical discipleship includes a learning curve and a lot of us would rather not go there!There is not only a learning curve in spiritual but societal growth as well. Many choose to ignore or reject the personal assessment and work involved.One of the most needed fruits of the Holy Spirit in a Christian life is self-control. This is certainly the one I need most, I admit it! To win all too often means “to GET and maintain control”, not to share or lose it. At that very crossroads comes the collision- with the very nature of love God is working to help us grow and mature in as opposed to “my way”. His way always includes the cross.To confuse Christ and culture is to confuse culture with provision and ultimate salvation. Ain’t NO OTHER LORD and absolutely NO OTHER SAVIOR than Jesus Christ, period.When a good number (majority or minority) of Christians support a political candidate who then goes on to lose a national, state or city election, it’s as if the devil himself has control of the earth! Ain’t so. Never was and never will be.When a group within a denomination or local church lose a “political” or policy vote or decision on (for example) -how church is done-… whew, the fallout of anger, bitterness, backbiting and slander often surfaces. Local churches have split over the “new carpet” that is about to be installed… so when matters of even greater importance come up, look out!!Let me be clear, any ministry type, mission society, coffeehouse, emergent/emerging, house church, worship team, evangelistic band, family, marriage can be severely wrecked by the attitude and character issues in a person and especially group of persons who are fully focused on WINNING or nothing. Little or nothing of God comes about when we wholesale decide “either we win or we walk”. It’s how we lose that largely reveals our true nature, at least in that time and place.IS there a time, a season, an issue worth fighting and fighting hard for? Can it be that separation of one from another or this group from that group- even in the body of Christ- is a good and even Spirit-led event? I believe the Bible gives a number of clear supports to such… but very, very rarely.What I think we have a hard time facing up to (and repenting for lack of) is the humility, the extreme patience, the willingness to even hear “the other side’s” position and rationale for doing or not doing X, Y or Z. We just want our way, we want to WIN. From Cain and Abel it seems part of our dna, personally and in culture.While it seems to me there are culture-neutral issues and more clearly biblical Christian elements in American culture, there are plenty of ungodly, self-serving, mean-spirited and “blow these people away” elements in our culture as well. Our culture, though often laced with Christian (and sometimes even biblical) ideals is yet built on control and rebellion. I am not convinced a thorough read of U.S. (church and non-church) history reveals an American Revolution built on pristine, Christ-following ethics so much as “personal freedoms to live as WE (read that, “I”) choose, King George”!It’s clear to me that Britain had it’s own selfish interests at heart… but the idea that colonial Americans were all wonderful patriots and not rebels is simply nonsense from both a biblical as well as historical view if one is willing to face facts. But if you disagree, of course you’d have to admit and suffer loss… and that’s the point.I don’t want to lose either! I want to live freely, get my way, be in the majority (at least now and then!). I also want to serve and honor my Lord Jesus and build rather than trash the Church -at large as well as the local church/community where I serve.The Christ of Calvary doesn’t at all look like a winner, rather a full-on loser. Game over, the end, darkness beats out light, curse-God-and-die stuff.Not so. Good Friday only preceded Easter Sunday, it did not conquer it.Jesus said “In the world you shall have tribulation”. He went on to say, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. But we don’t take that to heart. We want to win!The issues we care about range from stupid to sublime, tiny to massively important. They affect only ourselves as individuals or may affect millions. We listen, read, watch, talk, blog, take sides. But oh how we are bent on winning, and again, I say it’s hardwired into our culture to WIN or ELSE.The “or else” is where we rip, rend, crash, burn and out of emotion more than anything like faith, hope, love, or in the knowledge and wisdom of God which is first of all pure, peaceable, etc…. man I’m so convicted… just read James chapters three and four… I’m not kidding: read the entirety of those two chapters and you have in my view, exactly what every sort of local congregation in the U.S. needs to hear at this very moment in time, be they totally old-school traditional or super hip and fresh in their approach.Sometimes and in some areas the church climate may seem pretty bleak, but then the church is literally you, me and all who follow Jesus. The question is, are we following Jesus or simply determined to win at all costs?Those who follow Him in accord with the Word of God will at times suffer great loss. But consider this: in the end, nobody else wins.I don’t think winning is what life is about. Life is about receiving and sharing God’s love in Jesus Christ. At times it seems we Christians are better at body-slamming than loving. Then again, the Word (yes, New Testament, not only Old) and history records the very same truth.God help us to lose with grace and when we win, to walk in a deeper humility and grace. Either way we know You are Sovereign… not us!Somebody once wrote a song with this core lyric: “When you lose, you win, that’s the way it is. That’s when the love comes down.”



  1. I don???t want to lose either! I want to live freely, get my way, be in the majority (at least now and then!). I also want to serve and honor my Lord Jesus and build rather than trash the Church -at large as well as the local church/community where I serve.Count the cost. Count it all as loss. The road’s as hard as it is long. Live to die. Die to live. Loss is gain. Word!

  2. I have never been a big fan of competition, and my lack of interest in sports has resulted in some humorous conversations. I enjoyed the article and the biblical perspective.PS: Linux fan here, as well.

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