What a weekend! I was blessed to spend Saturday morning with family watching our oldest granddaughter play in her very first soccer game. It was fantastic watching her begin to learn the dynamics of playing on a team. I was very proud of the fact that she was very “polite” to members of both teams – at one time she even said, “Go Purple Team; Go Green Team.” Her team wore green jerseys; the other team wore purple. Even though she was the tallest player on the field, she refused to “mix it up” with the other kids. While it speaks volumes about her tender heart, I’m not sure what it says about her future in team sports. And that’s okay because I would much prefer that she maintains her sweet spirit and gentle nature than to excel in competitive sports. Don’t get me wrong. I raised both of my daughters to be competitive. To play hard. To give their best. And they did. But there was something about watching Hayes on that field that reminded me that some things are more important than winning.
Now, those of you that know me – especially my family – are trying to catch their breath following that heart-stopping announcement. I play to win. I want to win. I want my teams to win. When Jennifer and Ashley were playing team sports, I was in there with the best of them cheering them on. But on Saturday, I watched my granddaughter refrain from pushing, shoving, and taking the ball away from the other players – and I was proud. So maybe soccer is not our sport, and that’s okay. I will go to as many games as I possibly can, and I will make pictures and root for the green team. I will shout encouragement to Hayes, and I will be excited to watch them win. Oh, by the way, they did win by about a bajillion goals, but that’s not the point.
And that reminded me of something else. Have we lost that gracious spirit when dealing with people? Those on our team and those not on our team? Have we allowed ourselves to become so competitive, so demanding, that even as Christians we are willing to jump into the scrum, push and shove, kick and scratch to accomplish our goals? Have we decided that the end justifies the means? Because if we have as Christians, then we have totally missed the point. No, I am not saying that we need to compromise our beliefs. We must stand firm on what the Word of God says. Right is right. Sin is sin. God is holy, and He has called us to be holy as well. But through it all, He has called us to be loving and kind. When Jesus confronted the woman caught in the act of adultery, He didn’t condemn her. After He defended her from her accusers, He told her to “go and sin no more.”
It seems that we Christians have gone to both extremes. We see the Jars of Clay band member defending same-sex marriage by stating that he doesn’t care what the Bible says about the sin; Jesus told us to be loving and kind. He says that there is nothing loving and kind about standing against same-sex marriage. On the other extreme, we see professing Christians calling names and acting anything but Christ-like in their attempts to defend God’s Word. Neither are acceptable. Being loving and kind demands that we tell the world what God says about homosexuality. We must warn them that they are heading down a path that leads to God’s wrath. At the same time, we must take on the demeanor of Jesus who lovingly corrected the Samaritan woman at the well and ended up leading an entire village to follow His teachings, and remember that He reserved His harshest words for the religious people of the day.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s get in there. Let’s play hard. Let’s give it our all. But let’s do it the way Jesus did.