If you look at web sites and TV shows regarding last night, you’d think that the coverage implied, no, demanded, that Miami won. Why? Well, look at the headline photos. So far, I have not found one that has Dallas [team members] highlighted. So what does that say? About sports, it is an interesting spectacle, whether you are a fan of Miami or Dallas. Confusing, perhaps to some.
But I suggest that this insight into the world of sports and media sheds light on the Church as well. Some Christian leaders gain all the headlines, on TV, on the web, whether for good or bad. Sometimes it would be hard to tell who is “winning” based on the media coverage.
In the Church, as outlined in the New Testament (and certainly foreshadowed in the Old Testament), the one who won is the one who lost, and the one who lost is the one who won. On Good Friday, it appeared from all the headlines that Satan had won, and Jesus lost. “We had such great expectations for him! He was only 33 years old, at the peak of his mission.” Yes, for all appearances, Satan came out ahead. But the quietness of Easter morning hid the greater reality: the one who lost (Jesus) had now won; the one who had won really had lost. Satan was defeated, even on Friday.
It took a while for that reality to settle in. In fact, the resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost (last Sunday) signal a change in history, in the entire universe. The old has passed away, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). Yet, appearances suggest that the old has a strong hold on our present life. Sin still ravages lives, evil is the “new normal.” The one who does good is often penalized.
Despite what the headlines suggest about what is going on, Jesus Christ has still been reigning, sometimes hidden from our view, but reigning, nevertheless. The one who is in Christ (believes in him) lives in the momentary suffering, pain, and anguish of this life (Romans 8:23-24). But our lives are hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:3). The world may see our sorrows and think that they have won. Other Christians may see our agony and declare that “we don’t have enough faith.”
Well, like the Dallas Mavericks in basketball, we don’t read the headlines, we believe the reality. The Mavericks are champions in basketball. We don’t believe the pre-mature obituaries of the Christian faith. In Christ we have already received the promised victory at the end. There is not suspense. There is only waiting for the right time.
So congrats to the Mavericks. But even greater congrats to the pastor who leads his congregation day after day, sermon after sermon, baptism after baptism, and funeral after funeral. The victory is won, and he know it. Congrats to the Christian who has endured what seems to be “unfair suffering.” Despite the headline of suffering, their victory is secure in Christ.
Pentecost (the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2) ushers in the “last time” (Acts 2:17). For that final end we long, we wait eagerly, but we also live in the present, knowing that Jesus won the victory, he won it for us. And we won’t run to the center court to celebrate — we will be taken to heaven and exult in the heavenly court.