"We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
and perseverance, character; and character, hope."
This past weekend I was watching television with my boys and the Harlem Globetrotters came on. They had never seen the Globetrotters play before and sat spellbound while watching. Of course, the Globetrotters were playing their usual foes, the Washington Generals, which have not beaten them since 1971. My boys laughed at their funny antics and were wowed by the thrilling dunks. Finally, one of them asked, "Dad, are they the best basketball team ever?" That brought up some interesting thoughts as I have reflected on it this week.
It is my opinion that many Christians have decided that they either want to be a Harlem Globetrotter or a Washington General. Let me explain what I mean. The Washington Generals enter each game knowing that they are going to lose. It has been that way for years now. They know all of the tricks that are going to be played on them. They know that they will score and maybe even lead at some point in the game, but the outcome has already been determined. Their effort is just enough to make it look like they are trying. So many Christians wake up each day with a defeated mind-set. They have fallen prey to Satan's tricks so many times that they now feel that it is their destiny. They will put forth an effort to their Christian life, but they truly never feel as if they are going to succeed. They are discouraged in their heart, and they see nothing changing in the near future.
Obviously, you need to be a Harlem Globetrotter Christian, right? Well, let's think about that too. When you think about the Globetrotters, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? You know that they will make you laugh. They are very entertaining. They make plenty of trick shots. They can dunk the basketball. Everyone wants to be a Globetrotter. They fit perfectly into society, because we have bought into the philosophy that we are supposed to laugh and have fun all of the time. Life is about whatever makes me happy. Here is a question for you to consider. How many world championships have the Globetrotter's won? You know the answer: 0. With all of the talent they have, why haven't they won an Olympic gold medal or an NBA championship? It is very simple. They are focused on entertaining and having fun, not winning championships. Teams that have won multiple championships (Bulls, Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, and for my wife, Rockets) have had to persevere through hardships. They have had to go through the hard work of practice, injuries, team chemistry, etc. They did the work necessary and were rewarded with the prize.
The Christian life is not all fun and games. It is going to take hard work to persevere from day to day. Jesus Himself told us that in this world we would face trouble. Paul told us to glory in the trouble with the knowledge of what the end result would be. We can't avoid our troubles and laugh them off, and we can't wake up each day with dread and defeat already before us. When we persevere through our troubles, it shows what kind of character we really have. Our character must be shaped by Jesus Christ. This character statement that puts Jesus Christ at the forefront is going to naturally produce hope. It is not hope in people or in situations, but it is hope that is found in Christ alone. He is our hope. He is our victory.
So, don't be a Globetrotter or a General. Be a follower of Jesus Christ, because in Him we are more than conquerors.
May you be a champion for Christ today!