One reason I love team sports is because it requires such a high level of togetherness and selflessness. I read a story earlier this morning about a small change a college football coach made. The head coach of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers football team came in a year ago and removed the individual’s name off the back of their jersey. His quote “you can have them back when you play like a team.” In a society that focuses so heavily on the accomplishments of an individual, here was a coach that wanted to teach his team that this team is bigger than you. I can think of another team in the state of Pennsylvania who needs to learn this lesson or their head coach is most likely going to lose his job at the end of the season. It is the Philadelphia Eagles. They have some of the greatest talents assembled at various positions, but for the past two years they have really struggled to win games. It isn’t because they don’t have the talent. It is because they are not working together as a team. They have not learned that the parts are not greater than the whole. For a team to work well together, each individual must work hard and be dedicated to their part, but realize that they are just one small part of the much larger picture. This was on display in 1997 in the little town of Vinton, VA. It is where my high school is located. It was that year that the William Byrd Terriers baseball team won the Group AA state championship. If you looked at the previous year (1996), that team was much more talented than the 1997 team. The key difference (and I played on both teams) was the 1997 team played as a team. Our motto was “One team, One dream.” It may seem or sound corny, but that was the rally cry and for an entire season it focused a big group to strive for one thing.
This reminds me of a valuable teaching in the New Testament. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” The church (local and universal) is made up of many different people that have been given many different gifts by God. However, what unites us is the fact that we are one in Christ and that we are to use our many gifts for one purpose, to make God’s name known throughout the world. As a Christian we must remember that we are part of two things that are bigger than us. First is the local church where we worship. When church becomes about “me” or what “I” want, trouble is sure to follow. But as a Christian we are also part of the universal church which is made up of all those who have professed belief in Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven. We may look, talk, and live differently but if we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ then we are brothers and sisters in Christ and we need to act that way. God has placed each individual and each church where He desires it so that they can focus on making His name known in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world. But if we are going to reach our God-given goal then we are going to have to sacrifice the “me” for the “we.” Too many souls hang in the balance of heaven or hell for us to worry more about the name on the back of the jersey (our name) than on the front of the jersey (team name-Christ).
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him