Following on from my last posting about the Basque runner embodying the sportsmanlike qualities many of us admire here is a further link to some good news from the football world, concerning the Swansea footballer Angel Rangel
Iván Fernández Anaya is a Basque athlete who in a race realised that he was not going to win, and then noticed that the out-and-out leader had stopped thinking that he`d concluded the race. Iván Fernández Anaya caught up with him and instead of racing past to win stayed in second and directed the leader to the finishing line. He explained it away afterwards by speaking of the honesty of coming second !
Today the sporting news has all been about Luiz Suarez admitting to diving in order to gain a penalty for his Liverpool team, an accusation he has previously denied. At the moment we are hearing all about Lance Armstrong being stripped of honours gained during his cycling career, because of his alleged drug taking.
I don’t know about you but I know which of the atheletes I would want to honour and he doesn’t play football nor cycle competitively. And yet sadly the world in which we live seems to reward those who cheat and lie at the expense of those who honestly think of others, try to compete with honesty and rely purely on their own skill.
It is a poor role model which is passed down the generations; that it is ok to lie and cheat for you will be paid thousands as long as you don`t get caught. Many of our youngsters now think that cheating is acceptable in sport. But where do they see and hear all of this ? From the newspapers and television ! They see such cheating going unpunished and greatly rewarded so they begin to think that it is alright to con the referee, take illegal performance-enhancing drugs and grab as much money as possible. Sadly all of this makes banner headlines but there is no great report of what Iván Fernández Anaya has done. I feel that if there was more coverage of those filling the moral vacuum that often exists within all sports then perhaps the message might get home to our athletes and to the generations who look up to them.
As a Christian I know that I often fall down as well, but my desire is to be the best I can be in terms of how I live my life for I recognise that the only winning I am interested in is that of crossing the finishing line for the prize that Christ is offering.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing”. 2 Timothy 4:7-8ESV
How do you want to live your life ? Honestly, graciously, compassionately ? I hope your answer is yes, for that’s how Jesus wants us to run the race.
I have a tendency to wander around various blog sites and I find it interesting to see what others have to say. I came across the following, via Facebook, and its title alone was intriguing…………………………… I invite you to read it before we go any further.
Towards the end of the blog the chap observes that he “also realised that a good percentage of church – any church – is made up of friendship, listening, singing, laughter, giving, receiving and cups of tea.”
Earlier this week in a conversation with a church member I was informed that Church isn’t about having fellowship but is about worship. I wonder ?
The person I was speaking to was indicating that for them worship was all that mattered and, indeed, over the years I`ve known them I cannot recall any major interaction between them and others within the Church. Whilst being one of the leading lights of that particular Church they saw no reason to spend a great deal of time with others. Another member of the same place made the observation to me that there wasn`t enough fellowship and the Church would be better for it.
I wonder where you stand on this issue. For me I sway towards the latter view and not just in that particular place, but throughout the Christian world. One of our greatest metaphysical poets, John Donne, coined that famous line “no man is an island” and a great truth was recognised. God hasn`t made us to live along but in community with others, for its often from such community that we get our strength, support and encouragement to keep going. When John Wesley began his movement called Methodism he didn`t see a new Church, but a community from which a relationship with Jesus was possible. Indeed the early Methodist meetings were referred to as `society` meetings or `fellowship` meetings recognising the need to be at one with others.
I don`t think it was any co-incidence that Jesus chose 12 men to travel with him (although I know it was the accepted practise of Rabbis in his day). When Jesus said “Upon this rock I will build my church” I really don`t think he had the Methodist Church, nor the Anglican or Roman Catholic Churches in mind; I don`t even think he was trying to inspire any particular denomination, but he was trying to create a community on which all community could be modelled; a community which would reflect his gifts of love and support, care and compassion, equality and fairness.
Consequently, our churches should be such communities, and to remove any aspect of fellowship from them is to deny the intention of Jesus.
In this sense the atheist Church has probably got it right and priorities of cups of tea, chatter and so on DO matter for they enable the community to come together to worship.
However the danger to watch out for is when a Church becomes too focussed on fellowship matters to the exclusion or minimization of worship. I`ve known Churches who would spend hours debating the next social occasion and what type of sandwiches to have, but who wouldn`t discuss the possibility of change within worship. It’s too easy to turn our community into a social club and we must beware of that.
A balance needs to be achieved but don`t lets reject fellowship; lets allow it to become the means of evangelism.