In the past few days and weeks there have been stories in the papers and television that are disturbing. There is no more sense of humility or sense of allegiance. The one story that bothers me the most is the recent world cup victory for the women’s US soccer team. But this issue crosses sports into politics and entertainment and all areas of life.
I realize that I grew up in a time when things were different. Yes, there were only three channels on television. Yes, the phone was rotary dial (and yes I realize some of you don’t even know what that means!). There were no mobile phones. There were not even any gaming devices until later in my childhood. We played outside, and we played team sports. We won as a team, and we lost as a team. There was not this “Me or I” attitude. The saying was, “there is no “I” in team”. There was also pride in the name on the front of your jersey. We didn’t just play for people to see us play but to defend the honor of the team for which we played. I remember youth league baseball when I played for the Green Yankees, Red Indians, Blue Braves, Green A’s sponsored by San Ann gas stations, R.C. Cola, Dr. Pepper bottling company and other various local businesses. But when all-star season began, we played for the city or town in which we played.
No one tried to get more honor or prestige than the other players, we played to win to bring honor back to those for whom we were playing. There are times we lose our sense of humility and begin to be self-seeking and self- honoring. A great example of this comes from the bible in the upper room at the Last Supper. Jesus, the greatest in the room, begins to wash the feet of his disciples. He does this to show his disciples that humility for a greater cause, a greater good is greater than just honor that is shown by men. By washing the dirty feet of the disciples Jesus also is showing them by example what will happen in the next couple of hours. John 13: “12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
Throughout the bible we are shown repeatedly that we are to seek to put God first and his kingdom and others before ourselves. Matthew 20:16 “16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” Philippians 2: “3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Another great bible verse is Proverbs 16: “18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”
We live in what has been called the “ME” generation and it’s killing us! In the USA we have become a fractured society and not a unified body. And it’s not just in our nation but in our churches as well. We have become enamored with what we can accomplish that we have forgotten that it was God that got us this far. We must put aside our personal ambitions and get back to God, putting him first in our lives, our churches and in our nation. In the movie Miracle which depicts the USA hockey team winning the gold medal, there is a scene where coach Hal Brooks says “the name of the front of your jersey is a lot more important than the name of the back.” During recent times I find myself going back to that familiar verse in 2 Chronicles 7: “14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” The very first requirement is “humble themselves”. God help us turn back to you without pride but humble in spirit. Amen.
Brent Roe is senior pastor at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.