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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)

TITLE: Strings attatched
By Melanie Kerr


Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, reminds us that God chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.

I love those words because they assure me that God’s choice of me is not based on anything that I have done, or have neglected to do!

Quite a while ago, I remember reading an account of Jesus’ baptism as I was preparing to teach a Sunday school lesson. The words that God spoke, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” took on a new meaning when I thought about their timing. Jesus had not begun His ministry. He hadn’t performed any miracles or taught any parables. He hadn’t done anything, and yet God declared that He loved Him.

In the society that we live in affirmation is linked to performance. We like people, or dislike them on the basis of what they do, or neglect to do. When people disappoint us in some way, we are inclined to withdraw our support.

Last year I watched more than my usual dose of football. In the staff room sweepstake I picked out Croatia for the World Cup. They did not manage to get beyond the first round. I watched all their matches quite faithfully and also picked up one or two of the players’ names. On one of the nights they were playing, I went as far as finding a recipe for a Croatian beef stew to cook that evening. I think I did my stuff!

However, they failed to do their stuff. They played brilliantly against Brazil, but scored no goals and lost 1-0. They played against Japan, but with few sparks igniting and drew that match. They lost to Australia. I have to confess that I stopped watching that game quite early on. They were committing some fairly outrageous fouls. It went beyond hanging onto jumpers and tripping up the opposition – it was appalling. As I told my fourth years boys the following day – I can’t abide bad behaviour whether it is in the classroom or on the football field. They replied, “It’s a man’s game!” and “It’s a contact sport!” but even so…I still don’t think that excuses a lack of sportsmanship.

I am aware that I often tie in support and encouragement for people with behaviour. I am like the governments of so many countries – I will give aid as long as the man on the receiving end maintains a good human rights record! It is natural inclination I suppose.

God is not like that! His choice of me and the love that He lavishes upon me is not conditional upon my good behaviour. He does not love me because I am good. He does not love me more if I am very good, as opposed to just good! He doesn’t cease to love me when I am bad. He never withdraws his love.

It is a challenge to reflect God’s thinking in our dealings with people.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 1863 times
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Marilyn Schnepp 02/24/07
A nice devotional with Sports thrown in for reasons that evidently have to do with Good Sportsmanship. Some good points brought out in this entry...but a bit removed from the topic in my humble opinion. Thanks for sharing.
Marilee Alvey02/26/07
I really enjoyed your story. It gave me some AHA! moments, and, at 55, they come less and less! You made a tremendous point. This would make an EXCELLENT devotional..with a few small grammatical errors corrected. I'd never thought about how God affirmed His Son before He'd done anything. I, too, want to withdraw my support when people don't act as they should. I want everyone to be helpful, kind and polite...and, if they aren't.....heads will roll! As far as I'm concerned, your story is on topic. You use the soccer game to point out a lesson. You pulled your support of the team because they didn't measure up to your expectations...in skills or behavior. Good job!
Jan Ackerson 02/26/07
What a gentle encouragement this is! I especially appreciated your next-to-last paragraph.
Joanne Sher 02/26/07
Such a wonderful reminder for all of us. I thought the sports analogy was quite apt and central to the devotional. Much to convict THIS reader of!
Sharlyn Guthrie02/26/07
I really appreciate your views expressed here. Performance-based love is so prevalent in our culture and our world. It is refreshing to recall that God's love transcends all that!
Joanne Malley02/26/07
Such a true realization brough to light! God sure teaches us many things. Thanks for a well-written piece. Blessings, Jo
cindy yarger02/26/07
Amen! Loved your title.
Betty Castleberry02/26/07
This is all so true. How quick we are to judge people for what they do, not for who they are.
As was mentioned before, this would make a nice devotional.
Jacquelyn Horne02/27/07
I enjoyed reading this. We all need to watch how we condemn others because of their failings.
Allison Egley 02/27/07
I enjoyed this. Funny, I don't really think of soccer/football as being a contact sport (at least not compared to American football), but I guess it's more-so in other countries than the US. Great job. Oh, and I also think it is right on topic.