Last Friday I went to the Kraft Family Sports Campus on the Western outskirts of Jerusalem to play my role as an assistant manager for the Jerusalem Lions football team as they attempted to do something no Israeli football club had ever done, win a third consecutive national championship title. The Lions are a sports team which shares many attributes with every assembly of Christians in the world, and that’s why I’m writing this blog post to try and glean some things from what I’ve experienced and observed in the four years I’ve been with this team that can be useful to whoever might be reading this.
The championship game was tough, as we knew it would be, but in the end the Lions were victorious. After the post-game celebrations I overheard a reporter interviewing one of our coaches, asking him what the “secret sauce” was to the Lions success over the last few years. I was in a hurry to catch a ride home so I didn’t stop to listen to his response, but on the way home in the car I thought about it a lot and this is what I came up with.
We’ve got great coaches and some very talented players, but other teams also have those elements. There’s other things we have that give us some advantages over other teams, but they mostly help on the margins.
What makes the Lions so special, and so successful, can be stated in one word, “love”, kind of like what someone once said Believers should have for each other (John 13:34-35).
The players, coaches, managers and trainers which make up the Lions organization are men and women from many different backgrounds. It’s likely that many, perhaps most of us, would never have met each other, much less become friends, if it wasn’t for the team. I’m the only Jewish Believer on the team (I’m pretty sure there’s at least one on every other IFL team) and there’s one Arab guy who’s kind of a nominal Catholic. The rest of the guys have various levels of Jewish religious observance, from a few who are Orthodox rabbis to others who are pretty secular or “traditional.”
We all have different professions and vastly different political views, so much so that at team barbecues or on the bus when we’re travelling for an away game the discussions about politics and social issues can get quite rowdy.
But we all love the game of football, the city of Jerusalem that we’re all VERY proud to represent, and most of all each other. That love is a powerful glue which holds everything together despite our differences and gives us the strength and motivation to play our individual roles which are meant to contribute, in big and small ways, towards the goals and purposes our leaders tell us we’re all aiming for.
Now, wouldn’t it be simply MARVELLOUS if all the congregational fellowships we attend worked like that?
Believers have the first part. We’re all from different backgrounds, nationalities, tribes, professions, political persuasions, etc. Now we need to work on loving each other enough to unite our efforts towards the goal we’re all supposed to be agreed upon and working towards. It might help to keep in mind that although very few of us live and work in the earthly, temporal city of Jerusalem, in chapter 12 of Hebrews it speaks of a “heavenly Jerusalem” which all Believers should love.
Brothers and sisters, I consider myself tremendously blessed to be part of a sports team which has the kind of brotherly love, dedication, motivation, drive and success that EVERY organization, religious, secular or whatever, would like to have. The leadership of this team often encourages everyone to think about what they can do to help the team accomplish its goals, and that’s what I will close by asking of you, beloved readers.
Think about what you can do today, tomorrow and every day, to help your congregation and by extension the corporate Body of Christ worldwide, to bring us all closer to the plans, purposes and goals that the Bible tells us our King has for us to accomplish. The best place to start (I’m saying this to myself even as I’m saying it to you) is by following Jesus’ command to “love your neighbour as yourself.”
It works really good when people do that. Just ask the Jerusalem Lions.