I thought I was going to watch a game–America’s annual gala event, the Super Bowl.
There were banners, bands, stars, announcers, hoopla, hot dogs, beer and two teams dressed up real special for the occasion.
At first, it appeared I was correct. The whole thing was playing out like a normal football game. Touchdowns. Turnovers. Terrible plays. Terrific catches.
And then, all at once, it changed.
Suddenly displayed before my eyes was the difference ofparticipating and competing–and also the chasm between competing and striving.
First of all, every player on both teams showed up to participate. They knew their places. They were familiar with their assignments. They were in a position to perform very well, as long as nothing went horribly wrong.
A goodly portion of them were also pre-conditioned to compete. That means a fumbled ball would not send them into a depression, and they were ready to cash in on the trends of the game so as to gain an advantage.
But by the time the third quarter rolled around, it was obvious that there was only one player who showed up to strive.
He was not satisfied to have merely participated in seven Superbowls unless he could win the present one.
Although he initially had joined his team in having an “off day,” he removed the indignity of being the runner-up.
Yes, it is difficult to explain the difference between Tom Brady and everybody else on that football field. Quietly and with determination, he raised his game, increased his stats, and those around him who showed up to compete, joined him and defeated the participants.
I’m sorry–it made me think about the church.
We have exactly the same situation brewing in every sanctuary in America.
- We have those who participate: “I believe in God.”
- We have those who compete: “I believe in Jesus.”
- And we’re looking for souls who will strive: “I am a follower of Jesus.”
Many people consider all three to be spiritual profiles, but there’s only one mindset that transforms humans from being participants and competitors into individuals who strive for excellence because they know the purity, the joy and the domination of such a maneuver.
Tom Brady is a follower of the mechanics, the psychology and the mission of football. He will not be overcome by mere participants and competitors.
In this day and age, believing in God and even trusting in Jesus does not position us to be more than conquerors.
The good news is that Jesus of Nazareth came to set an example–in word, deed and sacrifice–of what it means to win.
The better news is, if you’ll do more than participate and compete, you can strive and overcome.