This isn’t at core a political post but of course people can interpret as they wish and will. What we all wish is “to win”.
One World Cup match I watched began and ended with a “win” tactic. From the opening to closing whistle players on both teams flopped like crazy, hitting the pitch in “professional fouls” trying to gain advantage right through the match.
Amazing skills, players, world-class indeed- but truth had zip to do with that oft-used tactic in order to secure field position and the ultimate- “win”.
Such tactics according to the rules of the game finally come down to referee/s making decisions and indeed, he began disciplining both sides for taking dives, as he well needed to. The outcome fully favored one team but it was the continual positioning of “He KILLED me, throw him out of the game!!” stuff that had me more in awe than in most matches I’ve watched over the years.
What many consider (including me) to be God’s Word has a number of interesting texts about this sort of thing, and today I’m considering just one where Paul the apostle writes about winning. Note- he’s talking about winning others to saving faith in Jesus, not merely winning in the Corinthian games which he mentions in order to help his readers understand his point.
The overview: According to Paul the Corinthian church was super-blessed as well as super-immature and threaded with elements of extra-biblical and in places, immoral habits. Study the neighborhood of Corinth in that age and your hair will curl. Remind you of local, larger or national churches in our time perhaps?
Two brief contextual points for clarity:
Paul is writing in response to being judged for accepting money among other things, for his and others needs to be met AS and IN he does so “for the sake of the gospel”, in service to Jesus, local and larger church(es) and in particular re. leading others to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Though he’s talking about winning and making defense for himself and others in missionary service, note what he is saying here- not only about others competing “according to the rules”, put another way, “applying the law lawfully, based in God’s love and justice, not man’s”, but in fact he raises a point that could be used against him personally. He’s saying “Hey, y’all and likewise I… must live out the commands of God, the law of God in love. He applies to himself the heart of the law of God exactly as he is calling them out to do likewise.
Jesus calls us to lose our life for His sake and sake of the good news ultimately so others might know Him. Does THIS govern (speaking of law) your choices, my choices boots-on-the-ground? Does it?
When my, your, anybody’s attitudes and actions put walls between people and the Lord we’re not “competing to win [them] according to the law”, we’re simply trying to win, protect ourselves and our chosen kingdom. Thus the people of God -and- kingdom of God are often critiqued when in truth it’s a man-made, humanly defended fortress we’ve built and are defending no matter what. This is folly. All kingdoms but Christ’s will end. End. Game over. That day is coming.
What Barnes mentions in his commentary notes is paramount: “Know ye not … [“Don’t you already KNOW this?!”]- In the remainder of this chapter, Paul illustrates the general sentiment on which he had been dwelling – the duty of practicing self-denial for the salvation of others…”
Rural, inner-city, minority, inmate, right or left or independent, adults, children, you-name-it, there is but one God, one kingdom and a mindset that Jesus, Paul and the rest of the writers of scripture give us, and it’s not about self-defense so much as dying to self so that others can recognize God’s love and truth lived right before their eyes- in us!
Like the soccer match (and far too many other matches I’ve seen in my lifetime) there are tactics that link with GOD’S call to justice, mercy and humility before Him (Micah 6.8) or we lose before the court of the Lord regardless of whether we won any particular game.
Things to consider along the path.
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn