by Graham Mol
This past weekend I enjoyed watching the first (real life) Formula 1 Grand Prix of 2020. For sports fans it has been a long, in fact unprecedented, drought of sporting events but bit by bit the games, matches and races have started up again. I got to thinking about why so many of us enjoy participating in and spectating sporting events. Why is it that sports matter so much to us? What is it about competition that appeals to us? How could a bunch of people running around on a field chasing a ball be so compelling? It seems so frivolous when you put it like that.
And yet when you’re in the University Volleyball Championship playing for 5th place against last year’s winners, many of whom are part of the national team, going down to the last tie-breaking set, it feels like a fight of life or death. The euphoria of getting that winning point is an feeling like no other… well, from my experience anyway!
The thing about sports, and all forms of competing, from the most physical to the most intellectual or creative, is that they all involve this element of overcoming. Overcoming the opponent, the other team, or the obstacle and challenge or even overcoming yourself, your own limitations.
There is something in each of us that is drawn to overcoming. We strive to win the battles we face in life and we celebrate with others who do the same. The drama of sport and competition appeals to us because we all long for that feeling of victory. For some it may be in becoming world champions, for others it may just be finishing that dauntingly long marathon. God has placed in the human heart a desire to overcome.
This is why the Gospel is the greatest story ever told. In Jesus we have our champion who took on the power of sin and death and won. He overcame the greatest threat and challenge to our eternal happiness. Christ laid down His life for our sake, you could say He took one for the team, and then rose again victorious, undefeated, champion of the world.
Here is the awesome truth. We need not only be spectators in this game of literal life and death. We too can share in the victory. Paul says the following in Romans 8:37
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Through Christ we can overcome the challenges and obstacles that we face in life. Through Christ we can overcome the enemy. By His Spirit we will overcome the Coronavirus pandemic, one of the biggest disruptions and threats that we have experienced in our lifetimes.
If we read Paul’s statement in context an even more beautiful picture of victory emerges:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Not only do we overcome the challenges of life through Christ, we have victory over death and sin itself. Through Jesus we have been made right with God and nothing will ever separate us from His love. No challenge, no threat or difficulty will ever be able to do so. In Jesus, we are not just conquerors of the things of this life, we are more than conquerors. Our future and hope is secured in Christ alone.
May you be encouraged by this amazing truth.