Eagle Devotional: Why We Reach Down And Pick Them Up
Last week we established that when it comes to why we play and for whom we play, Jesus distilled it down in one sentence: “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matt. 22:37). But then Jesus follows up this statement with: “A second is equally important: love your neighbor as yourself” (vs 39). How can this possibly be equal in importance to loving God? Loving our “neighbor” (or our opponent) is actually evidence and proof that we love God. This changes everything in terms of how approach the game of basketball.
In Luke 10, Jesus further illustrates how we are to love our neighbor with a story about a Jewish man who was attacked and beaten, and left for dead. Two religious men passed by and refused to help the man. These men’s faith was something they did outwardly, but it was not an internal reality. There was no proof in their lives that they loved God. Then a man came along who was a Samaritan – a group of people who were hated by the Jews because they were considered traitors and the “bottom of the barrel”. Rather than walk over him, the Samaritan chose to truly love the man with God’s love. Even though he knew the Jewish man hated him, the Samaritan reached down, picked the man up, and took him to a place to heal.
We see it all the time in sports – standing over one’s opponent in order to express dominance and superiority. Arrogance is put on full display. All too often this pride is affirmed with cheers from the crowd and encouragement from coaches. Parents, how do we help our sons win this battle against their own pride? It’s not a matter of if they will face this type of situation, but when? Jesus teaches a different way. Even with our worst opponent, He calls us to reach down and lift them up. Although just a story that Jesus told, I have a feeling that if Jesus’s story was real, once the Jewish man found out that a detestable Samaritan had rescued him, I don’t think he would have hated Samaritans any longer. We have seen this numerous times in our sports programs: we knock down our opponents through strong, competitive play, but we reach down and pick them up. Parents and coaches of the opposing team respond with words of admiration for the display of Christian character from our sons. Those moments are priceless. It helps everyone remember that life is bigger than basketball or our pride. Hopefully it helps others see Christ in Cedar Park CHRISTian School. Others have an opportunity to see that faith in Christ is not a show we put on outwardly, but a reality we live inwardly. When we reach down and pick up our opponents, it’s part of the evidence and proof that we love God.
The Samaritan character in the story Jesus told was actually about Jesus Himself. When humanity (us) was broken and dying, Jesus reached to the “bottom of the barrel” and picked us up and healed us. Humanity hated Him, but He reached and loved. Because He did this for us, to be like Him is do the same for others.This is why we reach down and pick them up…