One of the blogs I keep track of is a great basketball coaching blog by Eric Musselman, the former head coach (one of many in recent years, actually) of the Sacremento Kings. This is even more absurd when I confess that I don’t coach and I’m horrible at basketball, but I am in love with this sport that I have no talent for, how ironic. In any case, while he discusses coaching and basketball a great deal, his blog has a lot of insight into leadership and motivating players and interesting related tidbits. Recently, his post entitled, Wanting to win as long as I can keep doing what I do, had this great bit…
Saw a clip where former Dallas receiver Terrell Owens said, “I just want to win.”
Then I thought about something Doc Rivers said last month:
“I hear so many times guys say they want to win… I want to be a winner, but what they’re really saying is they want to win so long as it’s comfortable for them. What they’re really saying is, ‘I want to win it as long as I can keep doing what I do.'”
And I thought, “wow, this describes a great number of Christians I know.” We just want to be “saved” as long I can keep all the luxuries and comforts that I have. I want to win without having to give up anything really. I will say that I want to see God’s kingdom come and peace on earth and whatnot, but I don’t really do anything differently from what I’m doing.
This is the precise problem with triumphalistic Christianity. I understand substitionary atonement theory, I do. I know that there’s nothing that we could to earn the righteousness that Christ bestows upon us so we “win” a battle by sheer substitution, but doesn’t that leave a whole part of history out? Doesn’t that minimize the life and responsibility we have before us? I would rather play like I could lose than to become so pretentious as to think that I’ve won without ever having changed one routine in my life. This is where perhaps the other theories of atonement might be helpful – Christus Victor comes to mind. But regardless, something needs to change with the way we understand the living out a life of salvation as opposed the earning of it. Atonement enables us to properly engage the world, but we cannot assume that the kingdom comes when sit idly by. It is not what we do that saves us, but the saving inspires the doing.
And the doing is the beautiful thing that keeps us from wanting to win for ourselves. It is the thing that keeps us from assuming victory, but rather help us assume the same posture of the victor. Lord, I don’t want to just be a Christian in my heart – I want it all over.