If you are a fan of soccer – er, well “futbol,” that is, I know you must be excited about the World Cup. Every four years, 32 teams from across the globe compete for the sport’s highest honor and for the bragging rights of being champions of the most popular sport on the planet.
And if you aren’t careful, you will miss one of the best lessons of all from this ginormous event…
You see, we’re Americans (mericans!), so we largely don’t understand why people wear scarves in the sunshine, or if the game has “halfs” or “halves,” and why the game clock counts up instead of down.
But at least the maddening vuvuzelas were banned – right?
Still, I think the concept we have the most trouble with is the word “team.” Oh sure, we have football teams and basketball teams and baseball teams here in the United States, but let’s be honest, there is definitely a huge “I” in our teams. Players and fans alike are obsessed with individual stats and chances to play in All Star games. Athletes change jerseys like their dirty socks, and for a nation that worships team sports, we sure look like a bunch of math nerds trying to calculate individual records!
When it comes to the World Cup, though, every other fan on the planet truly gets the word team, because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Nobody in Croatia or Columbia or even Cameroon is counting up the number of “headers” or corner kicks or whatever. They are passionate about one thing: Victory!
And victory in soccer comes only with teamwork. The fans of other nations know that when individual players start making it about themselves, defeat will not be long in coming.
When you think about it, every Christ follower on the planet plays on a team, too. That team is called the Church. I can’t speak for believers in other countries, but I have observed that American Christians sometimes view serving God the same as watching sports. We are obsessed with church attendance numbers and individual performances – almost as if we played for different teams!
That’s why the Apostle Paul gave us these critical commands:
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (Philippians 2:1-3).
Paul is calling out our selfish tendencies to move the focus from the group to the individual. He’s tugging us back from our egoism and telling us to work together—teamwork for Christ and His Cause!
And of course, Jesus is our ultimate example of what this looks like:
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).
Because Jesus was purely and selflessly focused on victory over spiritual death, He was able to drink the ultimate cup of suffering so the world could freely drink from the cup of salvation!
So as you enjoy the World Cup this summer, remember that we believers all play for one team, and if we can take our eyes off our individual “performances” and ourselves and live out the humble attitude of Jesus, we can be assured of victory for THE Cause of Christ. Take off the selfish jersey you’ve gotten used to and proudly wear the colors of our Savior, so we can see every nation in the celebration of heaven!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Can you imagine how we would live differently for Jesus if we approached serving Him with the fervor of a World Cup soccer player? Especially if we began to see ourselves as team players, instead of individual believers!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, thank You for drinking the cup of suffering so we could have eternal life. Help us to have the same attitude as You, so we can bring many people into Your Kingdom.
Read: Ephesians 4:16. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Get: Outreach Event Ideas. Looking for a creative outreach event idea you could help your youth group pull together? Check out the section of the Dare 2 Share website that gives you several free ideas. Then pull a “team” together, and do it!
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: The World Cup is a great reminder that we all play for the same team, and when we have the attitude of Jesus, we will see victory for THE Cause
Key Scripture: Philippians 2:1-11
- What do you enjoy about watching the World Cup?
- What would your walk with Christ look like if You had a “team” attitude?
- What is one way you could have more of a Christ-like attitude this week?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?