Super Bowl XLV (45, for those of us who aren't Roman) will be played between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. Which team will lift the Vince Lombardi trophy in victory? Well, I'll tell you which one. The team of denial, diligence and deference. The team whose players deny their individual status and function together as a seamless unit; who devote themselves to effort and execution at the highest level of excellence on every play; who yield to the leadership of their decision makers - their quarterback and coaches; the team that does that best will win.
|The Lombardi Trophy|
Those three qualities are also the marks of the true disciple of Jesus. He told them, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Self-denial, diligence in carrying the sacrificial burden of God's calling, and deference to the will and wishes of Jesus are what it takes to be a genuine Christian. There are plenty of Monday-morning Quarterbacks and Sunday-morning Christians; neither of which should be taken very seriously. They both have something in common - an armchair. From their place of comfort they presume to analyze and criticize the game without ever getting in the game. And most won't, because they don't want to deny themselves, or sweat the sweat of diligence, or humble themselves in deference to somebody who actually knows the game.
Of course, with Jesus we're talking about the 'game' of life! And if it weren't for His status as "the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (as Peter correctly named Him), the consummation of the Law and the Prophets (as seen in His transfiguration), we might have a hard time accepting His 'upside down' insight into the game of life. Jesus says, "whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.
Jesus is saying that His team wins eternal life. But that calls for losing our self-centeredness, losing our self-protection, and losing our self-rule. Yet with Jesus, when you lose, you win. It's not easy to grasp that. That's why Peter rebuked Jesus when He started talking about crucifixion. Peter was way off base. Could Jesus coach us to deny self and take up a cross if He hadn't done so Himself?
Jesus exemplified denial, diligence and deference to the Nth degree, and walked out of the grave victorious! He won. And we win in Him.
Pray: Lord Christ, I want to have the victory over sin, death and hell. I want to be counted among Your true followers. Help me to do what it takes to follow You daily with my cross in hand.