Ice Storm 2017! Dear Friends, I'm so sorry we can't gather at The Groves this morning for worship. However, that doesn't have to stop us from digging in his word. Please enjoy this brief devotional based on some of my planned sermon for this morning.
How many of you love to watch the Olympics? My wife is crazy for the olympics. Needless to say, I got to watch more than my share of gymnastics, swimming, etc this past summer. Growing up, there was one team that was dominant for the USA. They were the DREAM team. Remember them? The 1992 Mens olympic Basketball Team:
Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, and that is only the beginning. Many say that this was the best team that has ever been assembled to play basketball. Prior to this olympics, professionals were not allowed to play. But in 1992 it all changed. And this team in 1992 was marked by fun. They enjoyed playing with one another, they were having a good time, and played hard and well together. The USA became dominant.
That is, until 2004. Anyone remember the 2004 USA Olympic Men’s Basketball Team? Yeah neither did I. They were forgettable. It wasn’t a lack of talent-the best the NBA had, including Lebron James, Duane Wade, Carmelo Anthony. They had a legit coach in Larry Brown. So what went wrong?
Two things I think plagued this team.
First, there was no unity.
Their coach, Larry Brown, went after his players in the media. That’s always good for team unity when your coach criticizes you in the newspapers. Others say that Larry Brown didn’t even like the team he got-it wasn’t “his style” of play. He liked coaching veterans, and a new crop of players made up the team.Ask any member of that team, and they will tell you, the problem was their coach.
However, unity was not the only problem. Lack of humility was the other.
One of the more well known players came over to a reporter during the Olympics and said, “You know, Coach Brown isn’t letting me play like I like to play. He said this almost whining like a little child. And as a result, Larry Brown tried to remove this NBA all star from his team! Apparently, this was a common theme throughout the team, each talking about themselves.
So you have a coach who doesn’t like his team, and a team who are all there for themselves-this is gonna turn out well, right?
Well, as it would turn out, they won the bronze. But for USA basketball, they might as well have not even won a game. That is not the standard for them. This was a major set back. This team, who had all the talent in the world, did not perform as they should have. It became more about themselves than about representing their country, unified with humility for the greater cause.
In Philippians 2, we find a church who is called to advance the Gospel, even through suffering and struggle. Paul's exhortation to the church is two fold-that through Christ alone, you must have unity and humility.
God calls our lives to be lived through the power and by the example of Christ. Others Lives Matter for our lives because others lives, like ours, are made in the image of God. Counting others lives more important than our own means through humility we submit ourselves to Christ, uniting around Him alone to give us the ability to do so.
For Other's Lives To Matter, as they do to God, we must pursue God individually and corporately. We must ask God to bring unity to our church body each day, and we must ask God to humble us. We must ask for his power to move in our hearts and in our lives. When we are united in the Spirit, as Paul suggests, we are bound together and humility breaks through. We begin to tell stories not of ourselves, but of God's faithfulness-how He is moving and working among each of us. How he is using our lives to bless others. This is who we want to be. This is how we want to live. For the glory of God.
Take a few moments this morning and read Philippians 2 with your families, and pray would give us unity and humility, to advance the Gospel together.
After you read, think upon these three next steps.
1. How am I pursuing unity in and through the Gospel alone?
2. Think about Who Christ is and the work He has done. Are you humbled?
3. Think about the value of other's lives to you, in contrast to God. Do they line up?
To close, When we stop seeing other people as competition, problems, etc, and see them for what they are-made in the image of God-and ask God to break our hearts-He will. The Holy Spirit will transform our hearts and we will see that it is better to serve than to be served. It is better to be last than to be first. I think as this happens, Other's Lives will not just be friendships, or coworkers, or people who serve us coffee, but the very people God wants to use our lives to touch with the Gospel.
Matthew is 34 years old and currently lives in St Louis, Missouri with his wife Leslie. He serves as the Associate Pastor at The Groves Church, in Webster Groves, Missouri.