Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Competitive Juices

The Beve is a competitive man. Put him in a pair of shorts and jersey with a number on his back, give him a basketball to aim at a hoop, and he'll play to win--every time. It doesn't matter if it's a pick-up game with a few friends in the Netherlands who never touched a basketball and have no notion of the nuances of the game or those who can challenge him to the edge. First he's remarkably patient. He'll teach, dish off the ball, be a phenomenal passer. In the end, when the game is on the line, he'll take it over and play to win. I mean, why should he lose when he can teach and still win? And though that's his first choice, he can pick up rackets, golf-clubs, bats, or any other kind of ball, and be remarkably proficient with them. Disgustingly proficient. He's an athlete. And a good one. I stopped playing tennis with him just about the first time I started--the very first time. It was just too humiliating. I'd taken lessons more than once in my life, thought it was something I would like. And he just picked up the racket and with his perfect eye-hand co-ordination, knew exactly what to do. And his patience with me, in the face of my frustration, just about did me in. I've never picked up that racket again.

See, I'm slightly competitive myself, to tell the truth. It just reveals itself differently. I was thinking about that this morning. I stopped for a latte at a stand where there's a 25 cent discount offered for the correct answer to the daily trivia question. Today's question was "Which US president's daughter wrote a book entitled, "Murder in the White House." I knew the answer, (Harry Truman) but it made me think. I've never gotten any of their trivia questions wrong--because I never guess. I hate being wrong. Hate to lose, I guess you might say. If I don't know the answer instantly, I just don't try. The end.

These competitive genes of ours--the Beve's and mine--they play themselves out in our kids differently. And these competitive juices were handed down in the bloodstream of our two oldest children. Straight through their genes. Only SK really isn't competitive, as far as I can tell. But the rest of us, playing a board game? A game of cards? Watch out!

And unfortunately, I think I can be competitive spiritually as well. Rather than helping others on, I can climb over others to get to the top myself. Wanting to be first, the best, comparing where I'm at with Christ rather than looking out for my weaker brother and sister.
However--if I think I'm doing well, I'm probably not. That's the truth, sad to say. James is one of the Biblical locations for thinking about such things. (Ok, so I'm not a big James fan. I know, most people love James and there are some great--really great!--things in it. It's just that the way it's written annoys my literary sensibilities. But if you want to think about relative place, you should read James.
"Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?" (2:5)

But Paul goes even farther. He really lays it on the line for me, and helps me lay it down, realize that I am, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 22, "a worm" (maybe not literally, but you get my point) and that's where Christ lives and moves and has His being in me. IN ME!
"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let those who boast boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

We're a bunch of losers, that's what we are. In the best possible sense of that word. A bunch of weaklings. Isn't that what Paul is saying? Isn't that possibly the very best thing we can say? That I'm nothing but what Christ is in me? When I am weak, when I know nothing but Him, when I don't have the answer, and can't win, He has room to be the answer in my life. I think it's about knowing Him first, wanting Him to be prime. Isn't it? Seek first to know [Christ] & His righteousness. And all these things are added unto Him. Isn't that how the old verse goes? It's deepest the cry of my soul. Are you with me?

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