Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011 - An Elbow For An Elbow

As I hosted a few boys this past week for a hoops/discipleship camp, I was reminded of some of the reasons I felt so strongly about using sports as a ministry platform. Over and over again I had “teachable moments” based upon their actions and reactions to our drills and competitions. On one particular day of the camp I was reminded of my life in sports – more specifically my attitude in sports when growing up.

We live in a society where we are taught “don’t get mad, get even.” And that carries over often to the playing arena. I remember often having encounters where I lived by the motto “an eye for an eye; an elbow for an elbow!” And usually in my mind that meant a much stronger elbow to prove my point. (At times it was so severe, even after I was supposed to be maturing, that I had to write about it in confession in these devotions.)

As I gave instruction this week to players that were over-aggressive on the defensive end, I heard responses like, “Well, that is how he is playing…” I then had to remind the players that we do not base our play on others but instead on what is right and true.

(Some of you reading this are probably still at the “elbow for an elbow” point of the devotion and saying, “Amen!”)

This week’s theme for the camp was: “In Your Face!” As a coach I have to at times say things that are uncomfortable for the players and this devotion is no exception. We are called to be a peculiar people – different from the way the world lives. And on this day that we celebrate our freedom as a nation, let me remind you of our freedom as believers to serve and honor Christ.
Simply put we can go to the Scriptures and know exactly the answer to the question of What Would Jesus Do?

First in Matthew 5:38-42 He totally refutes the “eye for an eye” mentality. He tells us to do the exact opposite. He basically shows us that our responsibility has nothing to do with the person on the other side but everything to do with what is right and true. He even goes as far as to saying dogmatically to give to those who ask you. He never tells us to first determine if they are acting right or even going to do right with what we give them.

We need to stop being “get even” people and start being peculiar “giving and serving” people. We have spent far too long living the “elbow for an elbow” approach! We have spent far too long living with the “looking out for number 1” mentality! We have spent far too long justifying our lack of giving by judging what the recipient will do with it.

[A simple example is when we see a homeless person asking for money. We automatically go into our justification mode for not helping. “He is probably going to buy booze or cigarettes.” “She is just going to support her drug habit.” “Why doesn’t he spend this time looking for a job.”]
What if I said that is an unbiblical approach? (Feel free to comment back on the blog if you think so.) I believe Jesus Himself sets an amazing and convicting example with His life’s actions….

As He met with the disciples at the Last Supper, the Scriptures share with us that a few things are happening:

• The disciples are arguing over who is the greatest.
• Jesus rises from the dinner table and serves them by washing their feet.
• Merrill C Tenney wrote about the disciples, “They were willing to fight for a throne but not for a towel.” What a great picture of their lack of servanthood.
• And at this point Jesus knows His betrayer is present and who He is!

Don’t miss this! I have read this passage many, many times and this jumped out at me yesterday. Jesus knew Judas had wrong motives. Jesus knew Judas was getting ready to betray him. Yet in full knowledge of this, Jesus still washed Judas’ feet!

Thank God for our freedom!
• Our freedom to serve others; to give to others
• Our freedom to not worry about getting even (there is a perfect referee in Heaven to take care of that)
• Our freedom to not have to figure out other peoples motives or live our lives based upon other people’s actions

Let’s simply live by what is right and true. Let’s play the game the right way!!!!!

(Side note: I watched a great documentary on the Harlem Rens; a pro basketball squad from the early 1900’s when basketball was still totally segregated. I found it very interesting and exciting to hear how these young men handled themselves amidst great adversity. Over and over it was mentioned how they showed dignity and class when threatened, stabbed with hair pins, having cigars put out on their bodies, being turned away from hotels because they were black, etc. Yet they simply went about their business as ambassadors of the game of basketball – breaking down walls of prejudice and injustice. These guys were peculiar. Oh to be that motivated as ambassadors for Christ!)

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