About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Will To Win   


I've been somewhat of a sports fan since I entered my teenage years.  In 1965 the Chicago Black Hawks were my favourite hockey team, mainly because Bobby Hull was our hometown hero.  In 1978 I became an avid Montreal Expo baseball fan. When my wife and I moved to Virginia in 1980, the three things I missed most after our move were, my friends, my city, and access to Expos baseball on the radio.  While living in a Washington D.C. suburb in Virginia, I had little choice but to become a Washington Redskins football fan.  Anyone who has lived in the vicinity of Washington would  understand that.  When driving to work each morning we'd pass by Joe Theismann's mansion.  


After moving south to Richmond, Virginia, I became a fan of the Atlantic Coast Conference of U.S. college basketball, especially a fan of the University of Virginia Cavaliers. Any college basketball fan living in Virginia in the 1980's will certainly recall Ralph Sampson.  In 1984 I became a Toronto Blue Jay fan, who, in 1985 broke the heart of every Blue Jay fan.  After being up three games to none in the ALCS to the Kansas City Royals, Toronto lost four straight games, hanging up the hope of going to the World Series.     


Anyone who is any kind of a sports fan knows that winning breeds winning, and if allowed, losing breeds losing.  In part, losing is what the Toronto Blue Jays are struggling with in what they call their rebuild year.  Loss after loss makes it tough to maintain the motivation to win. 


The apostle Paul made a few references to sporting events in his letters.  2 Timothy 4:7 says this: 


"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."


If Paul was alive today, I think he'd be a football fan.  It's a game, where more often than not, you fail to reach your goal.  You run hard and fast with the ball in hand until some three hundred pound blob of muscle and fat comes out of nowhere and flattens you into the ground.  After coming to your senses, you get back on your feet, and do it all again.  It's either stupidity or the will to win.  On and on it goes, but no matter how many times you lie on the field in pain, you never give up.  It's what the life of Paul was all about.  No matter the discouraging defeats, and there were many, Paul never lost the will to win.  He wanted the same for the church.  1 Corinthians 9:24 says this:


"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."


The pronoun "you" in this verse is plural, not singular.  Paul was addressing the church, not individuals, a church that was struggling with divisive defeats.  Despite the losses, Paul wanted this church to be a unified team of winners. 


Paul knew that Jesus never promised a life without defeats and discouragements.  John 16:33 says this:


"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world."


If you think about it, God is really good at being victorious in the midst of defeat.  He is always successful at turning a loss into a win.  The cross of Christ proves that.  As a matter of fact, many of God's victories, and those of Christians over the centuries, have risen from the depth of defeat.  I'm convinced that Paul viewed his execution, not as a defeat as would be expected, but a victory that led Him into the immediate presence of God.      


If I had a human hero, it would not be the Black Hawks' Bobby Hull, the Blue Jays' Joe Carter, the Redskins' Joe Theismann, or the Cavaliers' Ralph Sampson.  It would be the apostle Paul.  No matter the defeats, I want to finish my God-scheduled race, and, I want to finish it with those Jesus has called me alongside to run.  


In golfing terms, discouragement and defeat are par for the Christian course.  Nevertheless, by the inspiring power of the Holy Spirit, I, and we, will win. 



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