|University of Arizona Wildcats fly into the Sweet Sixteen|
March Madness has spread throughout our home. In case you do not have a houseful of men or boys, I’ll explain a little bit about this disease. (Now, don’t click away from this article, yet. I really am going someplace spiritual with this topic, so stay with me.)
The madness (sort of like mad cow disease with its snorting, outbursts, angry pumping of fists and yelling at TV referees who can’t hear you) starts out with a simple loyalty to usually your hometown collegiate basketball team or former hometown team sometime in early December. The sports enthusiast follows the team for several months through wins and losses developing an attachment bug. But the disease is not full blown until March when 68 basketball teams from across the country enter a Mad playoff tournament in hopes of being declared the Number 1 team in the USA. The winner over all other teams.
Followers of these teams become delirious as their heroes slam dunk their way to the next level of this contest. However, if the beloved team falters, trips, misses its baskets, and fouls its way out of the tournament, the loyal fan suffers depression.
How does this crazy tournament relate to our spiritual condition?
For starters, we are all winners–champions–when we have been saved by Christ. He delivers us out of the kingdom of darkness (where those who are lost dwell) into the Kingdom of Light (the place where those who have won the race dwell).
Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (NIV)
If you have watched any of those basketball players race across the court, you know they are scrambling, sweat dripping, to get the prize. Our race for the prize of the high calling in Christ has already been won for us by Christ’s blood but we must endure and remain steadfast in the faith as Paul urges us in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 to hold onto that prize, that crown that Christ has won for us.
Our opponents are not dressed in the latest style of sports shorts, jerseys and shoes. They are our own fleshly lusts (as Dr. Vernon Magee explains in his commentaries) and the temptations of the world and the devil.
While the basketball players endure hours of gym workouts, lifting weights, running, doing bench presses and then run drills and practice shooting, Paul sacrifices his body in a different way:
“…I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:27 NIV
Some teams falter, lose steam, forget the game plan, or cannot outplay their opponents. If that happens, they do not advance to the next round of the tournament.
We must be on our guard to keep fighting our opponents right til the end so that we may wear the crown Christ has won for us.
Paul says,”I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7, 8 NIV
“And we’ll keep on fighting til the end, my friend,” so go the lyrics to the popular song by Queen. “We are the Champions….of the World.”
Keep on fighting!
Giving thanks this week to the Lord
501) the prize the Lord has won for me–life eternal with Him
502) cheering for the underdog, the University of Arizona Wildcats
503) the Wildcats winning today’s game by the skin of their teeth (I asked the Lord if He really cared who would win, and if I should really pray for such a trivial matter–I left it in His hands)
504) evening prayer with the family
505) my young men still home for a little while
506) Spring Break! a time to refresh myself, clean the house, and visit with friends
507) my second grader increasing his ability to read–ecstatic
508) all of my family and friends who have supported me in the writing of this blog: Patcee,Cecelia, Julie, Karen, Linda, Sharon Kirby and Jennifer Janes
509) phone calls from friends
510) learning how to lead the “Simple” life and to Slow Down