Summary: Champions of Jesus share in his triumph and spread the victory news to others
CHAMPIONS FOR JESUS
Those of you who are sports fans probably remember the opening monologue to the TV broadcast, “Wide, Wide, World of Sports.” The opening shots depicted professional atheltes of all types. As the footage rolled on, so came those immortal words: “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
I guess those words don’t just apply to athletes. They could apply to all of us in general. Life itself seems to be a series of victory and defeat. It has its ups and downs. I suppose the point the ABC network was trying to instill is that no victory lasts forever. All but one, that is. There is a conquest that is eternal. It’s the victory we have in Christ. Today we will briefly explore this victory, as we learn what it means to be CHAMPIONS FOR JESUS 1) In the Victory Parade, and 2) Showered and Ready.
1) In the Victory Parade
I don’t know if many of you remember the last time the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, but I do. My wife and I were living in Milwaukee at the time. Mind you, I’ve never been a Packers fan, so I was a little tired of hearing all about the hoopla on the evening news. As much as I tried not to pay attention, one incident stands out in my mind. It was the victory celebration that was held in Green Bay, WI after the Super Bowl. Here it was in the dead of winter. Below zero temperatures, and yet, fans filled up Lambeau Field for a victory ceremony. Later they all filed along the city streets until midnight celebrating with a parade. The players – Brett Farve and Reggie White included – were in an open-air bus, leading the way through the frigid temperatures. The parade went around and around the city with everyone cheering. I thought it was a bit crazy, but the Cheese Heads had something to celebrate. Their team was champion. And that meant they were champions, even if just for a day.
The Holy Spirit takes us to another celebration. And here the apostle Paul is thanking God for the parade of sorts in which he participates. Take a close look at why Paul is celebrating, however. He didn’t win any trophy or Super Bowl ring. Consider his life. He was shipwrecked, beaten and flogged, left for dead, imprisoned, he even had a physical ailment that kept him from doing some of the things he dreamed of. Yet, he isn’t concerned with the procession of his life. He’s concerned that the Corinthians appreciate the parade known as the Gospel Ministry. Notice how Paul describes it. He says that God always leads us in a triumphal procession in Christ. Now, Paul is referring to himself and other ministers of the gospel. Yet, he has each of us in mind as well. We’re all part of this triumphal procession. We have a reason to march through the streets with a smile on our faces. The reason is that Christ leads this procession. Jesus is the reason for our joy.
What’s interesting is that much of the world wonders why we celebrate. Just like people who aren’t Packers fans and wonder why anybody would stand out in below-zero wind chills, so many people in the world look at us and wonder what we have to be happy about. A lot of people might wonder why you’d get up early on Sunday morning, with the threat of a tropical storm approaching, get showered and dressed, and go to some little church. “What are you celebrating?” your neighbor might be wondering.
Could those wondering eyes be right? After all, look around you. How many of us are rich and famous. Are we truly successful according to the world’s standards? Not really. We might seem more like those who suffer the agony of defeat. Many of us are trying hard just to get by. We don’t have any Super bowl rings of our own. We don’t have any trophies in our lives that serve to be our claim to fame. And you see that’s not even the point. We could be champions in the world’s eyes, but that would not be the reason for victory. The celebration is not about us. We’re not the lead-baton in this grand march. We’re part of the triumphal procession in Christ.
If we look at ourselves the procession might not seem all that grand. What are we? We are weak, frail, sinners who so often fail. We don’t seem like champions. And then we look at what we accomplish. Sure, we have our devotions. We say our prayers. We try to share our faith with our little circle of family and friends. Often times we might be led to think that we sure aren’t in triumph. More often our attempts might seem like a series of failures. Remember whose victory parade this is, however. We’re champions for Jesus. He’s made this procession possible. And any work he accomplishes through us is all according to his will and purpose. Also keep in mind that when you leave your home and come to church, you’re not alone. Countless thousands did that today as well. Down through history, millions have learned to pray to God and have wrestled with his Word; growing in their faith and understanding of Christ. We are not alone in this. What seems to be an individual struggle that begins in our living rooms is really a colossal accomplishment because of God’s grace. This victory parade flows right from heaven, into our lives, and to the next.