Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bigger Than Me

Gilmore Junio

Denny Morrison is a decorated Canadian long-track speed skater but stumbled in the 1000m qualification race at the Canadian nationals and did not make the team for the Olympic event in Sochi.

Gilmore Junio was part of the same team. He qualified to race in both the 500m and 1000m races. Yet, after racing the 500m race, he decided to give up his spot in the 1000m race to Morrison, who had not qualified. (Read more about this amazing decision HERE.)

Junio's reasoning was that Morrison had a better chance of medaling in the 1000m race than he did. For the sake of the team, Junio sacrificed his position. The sacrifice paid off, as Morrison won silver in the 1000m. 

The Canadian skaters entered the Olympics with a unity of purpose--to acquire team medals--that extended beyond their own individual desires.

This is the lesson the apostle Paul sought to teach the Corinthian believers who were focused on themselves. They argued about teachers, were involved in sexual misconduct, wondered whether they could sue one another, had a myriad of worship problems focused around one-upping each other with spiritual gifts, and even misunderstood the resurrection! Paul called this worldly behavior. Such behavior, Paul said, demonstrates that one is still an infant in Christ, in need of baby food, not the solid food eaten by adults (1 Cor. 3:1-4).

To teach them, Paul used himself and Apollos as an example. They were two of the teachers who were being argued about among these believers (1 Cor. 1). Rather than comparing doctrine, arguing about rhetorical devices, or fighting over ministry methods, their work complemented each other. Rather than competing, they cooperated. There was a unity of purpose in their work. They were fellow workers, together, for God. They were "one" in this work (1 Cor.3:8-9).

Paul characterized this unity of purpose with garden imagery. He planted, Apollos watered, but it was God who gave the growth. Neither the planter nor the one who waters were anything; the one who really mattered was the growth-giver--God (1Cor. 3:6-7).

This unity of purpose creates the context for God to give growth. We are God's garden. But comparing, competing, arguing and fighting are like weeds that interrupt progress in God's garden. Like Paul taught, and as the Olympic speed skaters demonstrated, a unity of purpose is the only way forward. How we live together matters. Our unity of purpose must be in growing together as God's garden, eliminating weeds of discord while serving one another, for God's glory.

Jeremy Hoover is the minister at the Otisville Church of Christ in Otisville, Michigan. His website is at He is an avid sports fan who enjoys biographies about athletes and books by coaches. His favorite sports are hockey, where he roots for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and football, where he pulls for the New England Patriots.

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