Tuesday, August 2

God, Man, and The Art of Competition

God can be defined as loving, but just. Studying ethics has taught me this. I think we can agree that God’s will is that no human should perish. But humanity has separated itself from God. However, God provided a way out from sin. So, if I choose to believe, then I may reunite myself with God one day and reestablish the broken bond. If someone chooses not to believe, he chooses NOT God, and thus chooses to remain in his sin, accepting judgment. Therefore, God’s justice is worked out. We are all given a way out; Jesus the Rabbi chooses every one of us and we make the choice to take up his yoke or not, just as his disciples.
This ushers the point in. Sports are great; they encourage healthy competition and exercise and good sportsmanship and discipline…but something’s wrong…every time, something doesn’t work out right in the end. Someone wins and someone loses. Someone gets defeated. Someone does NOT get to take home the prize or take pride in knowing they were better than someone else. And the teams don’t get to decide against this; there will always be a winner and a loser. It’s just the cold hard fact. The question was lightheartedly brought up that if one person prays for the win of one team and his opponent prays for the win of the other, how does God choose? Geez, how do you solve that one? You don’t. Try measuring the ocean with a yardstick; it might be easier. The dilemma isn’t how can we reduce God to conform to our ways, but how can we reduce ourselves to conform to God’s ways? In God’s way, or ‘mystery’ as Paul describes it several times, everyone has the ability to win. Jesus calls everyone to deny their selves and take up their crosses, but not everyone wants to deny their selves. They want to bask in the limelight of earthly competition. They want to roll around in their sin and shame, in the illusion that they are winning. Paul writes to Galatia that if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself, but let each one test himself so he may take pride in HIS own actions. Worldly competition feeds pride…pride because of another person’s loss. I play against someone so that I may take pride in the fact I beat them. I test my own actions against SOMEONE ELSE, which from where I derive my pride. There is nothing morally bad with it and I’m not demonizing sports as we know them, but think back to when civilization first started discovering the mass attraction to the art of competition. In ancient civilizations, people died if they lost because of the great dishonor it created in them. The gladiator attractions were driven by intense competition to the death. Each one tested his actions against another and if he lost, all dignity was stripped of him, much of the time including his life. Now we have done what we have tried to do with everything else; we’ve controlled it. We have tamed the beast so to say. Now we have sports where competition thrives, but losers don’t die. They simply recycle their loss of pride back into competition again. The beast has been tamed, organized, and systemized so that its advantages can be maximized and the disadvantages can be minimized. Oops, there’s ethics again…its called utilitarianism.
            This is just another remnant of the broken world that was shattered by sin. In the perfect and sinless world, there would be no losers. We don’t have to understand this with our human and finite minds, we just need to just know and recognize that it’s TRUE. Competition is a byproduct of a fallen world from God’s original and perfect creation. There are no losers in the Kingdom of God. So here’s some doctrine for you. If there are no losers in God’s Kingdom, then we know that either God picks the winners and therefore the losers are left in the confines of sinful humanity; or the losers simply choose to lose and roll in their filth they call “winning”. This brings up the question of how does God choose? What if he doesn’t? What if God simply says follow me and those who do find rest and peace and eternal unity with their maker, and those who don’t find themselves alone and eternally separated? What if the losers actually choose to lose? What if they limit their minds and wisdom and pursuits and LIFE to the ways of this world? They test themselves against the world and lose every time. God doesn’t want it, but it’s what happens when sin gets in between the creator and the created.