In this season, primaries and playoffs dominate the media, captivating people’s attention and passion. There are winners and losers for each and every one of these contests.
Isn’t it amazing how wrapped up some of us get, how much emotion we expend, as we root for “our guys” to win? My beloved San Francisco 49ers haven’t been in the hunt for a playoff birth for a very long time, but I am still rooting, for them, still a fan, still energetic in cheering for and/or defending my team.
We so identify with our team that when the game ends, it is as though we ourselves experience “the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.” I admit that I can be downright mopey when “my team” loses, even if it’s the first time I’ve ever rooted for them.
When it comes to politics the stakes are higher, but there are parallels to “the game.” I am fascinated by the energy that goes into the early primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina. The banners, the slogans, the statistics and analysis, the rallies and speeches and candidates’ personalities, all become grist for animated conversation and endless speculation as people root for their political candidates.
Yet another contest that does not dominate the media is underway, and it ought to captivate our hearts. In the cosmic conflict of the ages, the contest is between light and dark, good and evil, between God and the Devil and all who align themselves with the purposes of either side. We don’t have a screen big enough to show the history of the world, nor the means to see how our daily lives fit into the context of this immense struggle. Nevertheless, the implications of this contest are far greater than the outcome of any Super Bowl or Presidential election. Yet it is rare to see people who seem passionate for the progress of the spiritual warfare all around us, or feverishly enthusiastic for the One whose victory has and will make all the difference in the world.
We commonly accept the antics of sports fans that shout and yell their heads off in a show of loyalty for a team of athletes. We understand and perhaps admire those who cheer at political rallies, hold up banners, man phone banks, canvas door-to-door and hand out fliers for their political candidate. Why then, do so many appear reluctant, even embarrassed to identify with and root passionately for the victory of our Messiah Jesus?
The Bible admonishes us to believe, to earnestly contend for and to pursue victory through our faith (1 John 5:4). We are to run this race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1) so as to win (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Unlike sporting events and political elections, we need not be in suspense regarding the outcome: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Jesus is headed for ultimate victory and all those who stand with Him will share in His triumph and victory celebration.
The book of Revelation paints amazing apocalyptic pictures of some of these future victory rallies: “And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God” (Revelation 15:2).
We need to rally our commitment and enthusiasm for the continuing contest. His victory is sure, yet many stand to be trampled on the field, not realizing that there is a battle, not realizing the stakes are high. There are no sidelines in this contest and each one of us is casting our vote for darkness or light each and every day. Every cheer we send up, every banner we hold high, every noble act of faith on the part of Messiah’s fans and every extra effort to rally on behalf of His victory really does count, really does make a difference.
In the coming days I want to re-energize my commitment and that of Jews for Jesus to whole-hearted competition in this contest. Now we know that Jesus is the King and that He will reign. What we don’t know, and what we should be concerned about, is who will be on His team? Who will make ready for Him, who will be spared, versus who will oppose Him until joining His team is no longer an option?
We can’t save anyone but we can be used of God to see souls saved, and we can be used of Him to live lives that show forth the kind of changes that politicians can only dream of. God says we can make a difference in the battle between good and evil, but we must strive and strain and work for the victory that has been promised us. We can’t hold anything back because there is far too much at stake. Each smaller contest leads us forward to the next. Every pamphlet we hand out, every banner we hold up, every phone bank we man, every call we make, every conversation that points to Jesus is part of the larger campaign in this cosmic contest. We want to thank you for praying for some of our recent outreaches, and we’ve got some reports from New York, Los Angeles and South Africa (with some photos) to share with you.
We need to remember that we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses,” not only those who have gone before us but those who stand with us all over the world in support and prayer. What a privilege it is to root for and campaign for our Messiah Jesus. Even though we don’t see it yet, His victory is sure and that certainly is worth getting excited about right here, right now.