Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We Could Be The Champions

   Imagine if championship-caliber teams or athletes aimed for lesser goals. Imagine if John Wooden's UCLA teams had been fine with collecting some wins, but not striving for more. Imagine if Jesse Owens or Jackie Robinson had been content to play only with persons of their color, instead of running through color barriers. Imagine if the next great Olympic female gymnast, in middle school now, gave up on her sport in order to catch up on reruns of the latest reality show on television.
   Could it be that we have settled for something less than the best for us? That comfort, false modesty, or ignorance have won out? I read these words this week during my morning devotional:

If you asked twenty good men and women today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness.  But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, they would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive.... The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself.  We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 1941)

   We could be the champions, too, if we did not settle for gains, goals, and desires far lesser than what God has placed out in front of us. Instead, we're too easily pleased with less. Must we strive for God's best? Must we struggle and compete to win? Yes. Paul says we are to press on toward the prize and disregard every hindrance as we run the race with perseverance (Philippians 3, Hebrews 12). Grace and Peace, Scott

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