The Goal

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am by no stretch of the imagination a “sports guy.” Sure, I played little league softball for a few years, dabbled in some volleyball at a local park, and played some football and soccer at church, but I never gained a passion for any of them, in part because I was never all that athletic. I was also homeschooled until I graduated high school, so I never played for a team during those years. Furthermore, my immediate family members are not really sports enthusiasts, although I do have a few ties to Texas A&M (shout out to my Uncle Don, Uncle Jim, and Mom). I’m far from competitive, low on team spirit, and largely ignorant when the conversation turns to fantasy football draft picks. Until Saturday, I had lived my life without the ESPN app and its catchy jingle (Da-da-da! Da-da-da!).

But within the last few years, a number of my best friends from college discovered FIFA, leading to a passion for football (International version, not American). They’ve been after me to pick a team and join them for a while, and, because I didn’t know what I was doing, I’d never committed. That ended this past week. After much urging, and just a little threatening, I decided to pick a team. As of Thursday, I started cheering for Leicester City Football Club. Again, I don’t know much at all; I’m out of my element. But something already caught my attention.

Leicester City won Saturday’s game against Swansea City 3-0, each goal scored by Riyad Mahrez. Yet this was also a good game for Jamie Vardy, even though he didn’t score a goal for Leicester. Vardy, from what I’ve gathered, had recently broken a record for the most consecutive games played where he scored a goal. This game could have continued that streak. Swansea’s goalkeeper had parried one of his shots, and his team was already ahead by two when he found himself with the ball in range of the goal, with Swansea’s team around him. But instead of taking his shot, shooting for a name for himself, he passed the ball to Mahrez, who scored beautifully off of the setup.

I don’t know what exactly was going through Vardy’s head. Maybe I’m missing some context here. But this was an impressive move. A couple of sources I read praised Vardy’s unselfish pass for the good of the team. The goal was still made, but he knew he didn’t have to be the one taking the shot.

I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 12. Here, Paul has begun to describe the life of a Christ follower in light of proper theology, and one of his first points is the unity of the body. He writes,

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Romans 12:3-5

Again, in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul draws upon the analogy of the body, writing,

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
1 Corinthians 12:14-20

This is the goal of the Christian. We recognize that our lives are no longer our own. We don’t worry about making our own names great, nor are we bothered when others are given special honor. Rather, we seek the good of the body according to God’s good design, “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25). We seek the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of men.

Leicester knows the importance of playing as a team, and Vardy exemplified that trait. Let us do the same with the church. Let us remember that God has gifted us individually for the good of the whole. He has specifically designed the body for his glory. Let us rest in his wisdom and love our brothers and sisters. And, as always, let us seek first his kingdom and righteousness, leaving the rest to our faithful Lord.

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