Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Getting to the Top

March Madness has begun here in the US. Over in Italy a new pope was recently ordained. These random events got me thinking about what it takes to make it to the top spiritually. So here are my twisted sports analogies.

The selection process for pope seems equivalent to making it to the top of Major League Baseball. You begin in the minors - single A. This equates to time spent in a monastery. Your doing what you have to, but no one's watching. It's like learning the discipline of silent contemplation. You're a long way from the top and must search deeply within yourself whether or not you have the skills and commitment to make it.

Gradually, you work your way up the ranks, but most MLB rookies are considerably older than NBA or NFL rookies because it's a long path through the minors. The pope is usually pretty old too. Then you finally break into the big league. Now it's a 162 game season in the heat of summer and full glare of the public spotlight. Every little transgression hits the headlines.You play golf with an injured teammate? It's mud on your name too. Oh, and you better perform on the diamond too.

After a 162 game season there's now a long playoff schedule as every round is a 5 or 7 game series. This reminds me of the papal conclave. The cardinals get locked in a room and vote four times every day. Each time the fail to reach a consensus they send some black smoke up a chimney. When they eventually make a decision the send white smoke up the chimney to let the world know. It's a pretty arduous process with this many rounds of voting before a champion, I mean pope, is appointed.

Then I got to thinking about some other playoff comparisons...

All those Calvinists out there kinda view salvation like the NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Committee. You play the regular season as best you can. You may have an impressive record overall, or just excel in your conference. But at the end of the day, your selection and seeding is out of your hands. Like everyone else in the country, you sit around a TV on Sunday night waiting to see if you were selected and the seeding you received. Sometimes it makes sense. At other times the whole process and outcome is completely mysterious.

The NFL playoffs and ATP tennis tournaments share an affection for sudden death in determining their champions. One loss and your out! Many Christians view God through this lens. They go through life terrified of making mistakes. Or they're at least terrified of not having the opportunity to confess their sins and therefore of dying before their sins are forgiven. While sudden death makes for thrilling sporting events, it's no way to experience life. It leads to anxiety and a distorted view of a loving, gracious and just God.

In truth, there's really no "making it to the top" in our walk with Jesus. In fact, he several times warns his disciples against that ambition (see Mark 10:35-45). Our salvation is more like playing little league where they don't keep scores. (I hate this practice in real life, but it fits this comparison well.) Regardless of whether your team wins or loses. Regardless of whether you hit or caught a single ball all day. Everyone gets taken out for ice-cream after the game. Everyone wins. You just have to be on the team and participate to the best of your abilities.

READ 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

No comments:

Post a Comment