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Religion: Falling Short

By Pastor Phillip Howle

web posted January 13, 2016
RELIGION-- The Tigers came up short in their efforts to be National Champs. They solidly represented our great State of South Carolina. Coach Dabo Swinney, has also represented a Gospel-focused life powerfully through his time as head coach at Clemson. I don’t follow College football all that closely, but I was almost moved to tears as I watched the press conference the week after Clemson became the number one team in the nation. Coach Swinney was asked if he felt pressure. His response was amazing:

"I just laugh at that stuff," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. "I understand the question. I'm not being rude. My best friend is P.J. Tessmann who I grew up with. I get on the phone with him last night and his mom, "Sweet Mama" that is what we call her, she just goes to the doctor and finds out she has got very advanced lung cancer. They don't really know what they are going to be able to do. His job just kind of shut down so now he is looking for a new job. That's pressure. Do I feel pressure about a football game? No man. Turn the TV on. You got 150 people slaughtered in Paris. You got problems in this world. Football is not pressure. This is a game. That's the message I try to instill in our players all the time. First of all enjoy the moment. This brief, brief moment in your life to play a game that your body is not going to allow you to play forever even if you go to the NFL. Enjoy this brief moment of the relationships you have and just your time at Clemson. But also understand through this game you have a chance to bring some joy to people who really have pressure in their life, who really have problems. What kind of pressure do I have? Give me a break. I love what I do and it's important, but when you have the cross as the foundation of your life football ain't going to bring no pressure. I promise you that. Absolutely zero. That's why it is fun. This is a game. It's fun. People lose total perspective out there a lot of times. "

Just great words of wisdom given there at a national press conference. The cross of Jesus is to define our perspective and view of life. You see the reality is that as Clemson fell short, Alabama fell short as well. They had a loss on their record. Neither team was prefect, nor is any team prefect. I know many people who traveled out to Arizona for the game and they got to watch a great one. But the Tiger’s fans are still sad to come so close and yet lose it. You see Dabo was so right on when mentioned “having the cross as the foundation of your life.”

Tullian Tchividjian says that “The gospel ... is not just for the all-star and the illustrious and the legendary. It's for the loser. It's for the defeated, not the dominant. It's for those who realize they're unable to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. It's for people who understand the bankruptcy of life without God. It's for people who recognize that while they're definitely deficient, God is more than sufficient.
Jesus came to show us that the gospel explains success in terms of giving, not taking; self-sacrifice, not self-protection; going to the back, not getting to the front. The gospel shows that we win by losing, we triumph through defeat, we achieve power through service, and we become rich by giving ourselves away.

In fact, in gospel-centered living we follow Jesus in laying down our lives for those who hate us and hurt us. We spend our lives serving instead of being served, and seeking last place, not first. Gospel-centered people are those who love giving up their place for others, not guarding their place from others—because their value and worth is found in Christ, not their position.

When we understand that our significance and identity is in Christ, we don't have to win - we're free to lose. The gospel frees us from the pressure to generate our own significance and meaning. In Christ, our identity and significance are secure, which frees us up to give everything we have, because in Christ we have everything we need.”
You see the cross means that I am loved in spite of all my failures. My acceptance to Christ came apart from any successes that I ever had. In fact if I cling to any victories as merit to earn the love of Christ, they simply prove that I have never not gotten it. In short Jesus is only for failures and losers. Heaven is only for unworthy people.

You see when Christ was there on the cross, He was an abandoned, all His fans, those he had served, loved, healed, and even washed their feet of, had left Him! Those who had championed Jesus, now saw Him as the ultimate loser and abandoned Him.
But here is the promise and the power for each of us, that because He was abandoned we are assured that “He will never leave us nor forsake us” Hebrews 13:5.

Looking forward to next season and praying for Dabo that he continues to shine as a very public witness for Christ.

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