My son is on two basketball teams. One is his grade school team, and the other is made up of eighth graders from a couple of schools. He’s been playing with both groups for years.
This month those worlds collided at a basketball tournament when, in a couple of games, his grade school team faced teammates from the second league. As one mom and I were talking—which is a pretty common occurrence for me in the bleachers—we commiserated about watching our boys play against each other. While we were absolutely rooting for our sons’ teams, we also wanted to see the other boys do well. It’s not as fun to watch friends compete for the same trophy. Now, for people who are uber-competitive, you might think I’m ridiculous—and I’m fine with that when it comes to middle school sports.
I do have more serious concerns, though, when it comes to competing against teammates when you’re talking about Team Jesus. After all, Jesus prayed to his Father that Christians would realize they are on the same team: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:20-22).
We aren’t competing to see who’s going to win. After all, Jesus already won and has given us glory, which means we already have a trophy. Instead of nitpicking our other teammates, we should focus on the game plan Jesus gave us: Stay close to the Father “so that the world may believe.”
There are people who have no idea how awesome it is to be on God’s team, and it’s our job to win as many souls as possible.
Now, being realistic, I know that with different churches and different denominations we won’t fully and completely be one until heaven. However, when we start critiquing other believers and putting them down—in essence, competing against them for the trophy we all share—we need to hear the reminder, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15).
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who, after watching kids play basketball for eight years, is starting to see how the plays develop. She might have learned more quickly if she didn’t enjoy talking to her friends in the bleachers quite so much.
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