Friday 2 December 2022 World Cup 1- Part of the team
Romans 12: 1-12
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
It might seem obvious, but football is a team game. There are, of course, certain players who stand out as brilliant, but without the team, they are nothing. Even though everyone shares the ability to kick a ball, the skills needed to be a striker are different from those of the central defender or the goalkeeper. And the best teams to watch are those who play as a team – not needing to be a star; looking to get the best out of their colleagues; encouraging each other; recognising their strengths but not thinking too highly of themselves; working together under the leadership of a manager who values and challenges them.
It’s all so similar to Paul’s instructions to a group of Christians. Members of a body, but different; following the same leader, but with different gifts to share for the good of all; encouraging others to excel in their own area; recognising that we have a place in God’s mission, but being realistic about our strengths and our weaknesses.
So, a message for us, and for whatever team(s) we might be supporting. Love the game and your teammates; play by the rules; give others the opportunity to shine; keep up the enthusiasm even when things are tough; be patient (route 1 is not always the best); keep on hoping, but recognise it won’t all be simple; keep the faith.
And finally, for those of us who believe in a God who listens, persevere in prayer – for your team, for their opponents, and even if the late great Bill Shankly might disagree, for the more important things in the world.
Loving God, help us to hold onto the good, to hate evil, to appreciate our own gifts and those you have given to others. Let us work for the common good and continue to be people of prayer. Amen
The Reverend Clare Downing is the Moderator of Wessex Synod