By March 17, 2011 Max Out Blog

This past weekend, 48 teams and their fans from across the state descended on the city of Lincoln for the boy’s state basketball tournament.  Thousands of people flock to the tournament each year to participate in this annual competition.  Many of these players, coaches, parents, and fans have waited years for this moment.  The players have dreamed of playing at the Bob Devaney Sports Center since childhood and perhaps their fathers have spent even more time pondering this possibility.  For half of the teams, their dreams of a state championship end on the first day.  Only six teams will be hoisting the championship trophy by the end of the tournament.  I’m always fascinated by the coach and player interviews immediately following the championship game.  There is often reference to fulfilling the goal they’ve had all season of winning the championship.  Coaches share about the pride they feel for their team and the hard work that has finally paid off.  The championship is the culmination of all their hopes and dreams and each player wants to get their hand on that trophy and net, as if that is the “piece of glory” they have longed for. 

The apostle Paul sheds some insight on our desire for crowns.  He says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only ones gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  It is sad to consider that the vast majority of athletes, coaches, and fans who celebrated a championship this past Saturday refuse to realize that the trophy and honor of being champions will not last forever.  In fact, I’ve heard many champions through the years share how they felt depressed the morning after winning the big game.  There was a feeling of “Is that all there is?”

With this common crown-seeking in the world of sports (even amongst Christians), it is so refreshing to hear a championship coach share a different perspective.   Monte Jones, the head coach for the Class C-2 Champions Lincoln Christian, shared with the Lincoln Journal Star about his team’s goal for the tournament.  “Winning the state title is great for the school”, Jones said, “but it wasn’t the only goal.”

“I told them before, that getting here was not our goal and winning this game is not our goal. Our goal is taking the abilities that God’s given us and maximize those while we play,” Jones said.

“If Bergan would have made a couple more shots and won, we still met our goal. It’s great, but there is a (state championship trophy) that five years from now will be covered up by Junior High B team volleyball trophies in the trophy case. I’m just so proud how they represented the name on the front of their jersey.”

Now that is a refreshing and biblical perspective for Coach Jones!  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard another Christian coach share this after winning a state championship!

The Scriptures clearly lay out God’s goal for believers.  According to Romans 8:29, God has “predestined those whom he foreknew to be conformed to the image of his Son (Jesus Christ).  Christ-likeness is the entire purpose and goal of discipleship. Through God’s sovereign will, he is  sanctifying (setting apart as holy) a people for himself.  It’s also important to realize that this goal of discipleship is costly.  Too often, believers expect their lives to be easy and burden-free.  But Jesus said in Matthew 10:24 that “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master”

True disciples of Jesus Christ should expect to be persecuted and undergo severe trials, following in the footsteps of our Master.  That is why Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:12, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 

Max-Out Summary on Goal:  God’s will for the Christian athlete and coach is that they would be “conformed into the image of His Son”.  We should praise God for the hope we have in the good news of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection from the dead (The Gospel).  But we should also hold fast to this gospel and realize that our lives are meant to display Jesus Christ more and more each day.  God uses all circumstances in life and sports for the purpose of Christ-likeness and for His glory.

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