Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Victorious Life

My name is Lisa, and I’m an Alabama fan.

(Side note: Please spare me the ridicule, jokes and trash talk. I’m trying to make this a thought-provoking message here.)

Some days I feel like a rare breed, considering that I have about 6 friends who are Alabama fans, compared to roughly 768 friends who are Auburn fans. I’ve had more than one Auburn die-hard try to talk me into abandoning my loyalty to the Tide and switching to their side. (Sorry, ain’t gonna happen.)

Yesterday was the first Saturday all season that I was able to fully relax and no that there was no way that Alabama was going to lose. That’s because they had an off day yesterday. In the middle of an injury-plagued, heart-wrenching season, yesterday was a very welcome respite.

And while there was no chance of posting a loss, and only a very slim (although still possible) chance that one of the players would be injured, there was also no chance of winning yesterday. No “W” to add to the schedule. No victory dances in my living room.

To play is to risk getting hurt, to risk losing the game. But what good is a team that never plays a game?

Likewise, what good are we as Christians if we never get out of the stands and onto the field? If we want to stay neat and clean and unbloodied, then the sidelines are a pretty safe place to be. But did Jesus ever call us to a life of safety?

And for those of us who dare to venture onto the field, at the first sign of trouble or trial, do we head for the hills?

Yesterday I wondered, if my team knew with absolute certainty that they would win the next game they played, how differently would they play? With little effort, taking every precaution to keep from piling up more injuries? Or would they play with abandon, play with the confidence that comes from knowing that victory is a guarantee?

Don’t we make those same choices about how we act in our Christian lives? Victory is certain; Jesus’ death and resurrection sealed the deal for us. Yet so often I don't live like it. I agonize over every "play" of my life, overthink and overanalyze every situation, forgetting that God has given us the victory.

This battle we’re in is not some mere football game, with bragging rights and perhaps a shiny trophy at stake. And unlike a football team, we can’t schedule a weekend off. There’s no off-season. We’re in an all-out, day in, day out battle for God’s kingdom.

In I Corinthians 5:56-58, Paul says, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Knowing the outcome of the battle does not negate my need to be in it; on the contrary, I should fight even harder, because I am assured that nothing that I do in my Christian life goes to waste. Every mistake I make can be used by God for good (Rom. 8:28).

Ask yourself, in what areas of my life am I not giving all I can? Remember that the battle is the Lord’s, and the victory has been won. We’re guaranteed the most incredible outcome. Let’s start living like we know that to be true.

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