Role Playing

What can we, as disciples of Christ, learn from the loss of a football game? A lot, actually, but let’s look at just one glaring lesson we can learn from the stunning play that secured the loss of Super Bowl XLIX.

The Seattle Seahawks had it their hands – the first back-to-back Super Bowl wins in over a decade, and they were going to get that win by defeating the team that previously accomplished that same feat, the New England Patriots. The win was Seattle’s for the taking. Following an astonishing, if not absurd catch by Jermaine Kearse, with less than a minute to play in the game, the Seattle Seahawks found themselves one yard out from the end zone, with three attempts left to shove the ball over the goal line for the win. It was checkmate, game over, and everyone in the stadium knew it, as did the estimated 120 million viewers watching the game on NBC.

The Patriots had been unable to stop runs from Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch all evening. Trying to stop Marshawn Lynch is like trying to hold back a tidal wave with your bare hands. He averages 4.3 yards per carry. Seattle needed only one of those 4.3 yards, and they had three attempts to get it. It was obvious to everyone watching what needed to happen, and what was going to happen. Russell Wilson would take the snap, and hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch, who would take the ball into the end zone while dragging four to six defenders with him. That is how it always works. That is how the script is written. That is what Marshawn Lynch does. It is why he was hired, and each time he does it, the fans rain Skittles down upon him.

Marshawn Lynch has run for 1,306 yards, and has recorded a league-high 17 touchdowns. He has been compared to some of the greatest running backs ever to play in the NFL, and is undoubtedly headed for the Hall of Fame. He is a sure thing – but not in this case. In Superbowl XLIX, when everything is on the line, the win is in your hands, rather than go to the man who plays that role, who was hired for that very scenario, the man who makes his living accomplishing the very task that was sitting in front of them, the Seahawks threw a little pass to Ricardo Lockette, a pass that was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Malcom Butler, and with that decision, the Seahawks squandered a historical victory and flew home with a gut-wrenching defeat.

The lesson here? Stay within your role and play within your role.

In 1st Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul is discussing the makeup of the body of Christ, the church. We are a diverse people, gifted to play different roles. I have gifts and a role to play just as you have gifts and a role to play. Paul says, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” Then just as absurd as the pass play that lost the Super Bowl for the Seahawks, Paul toys with an absurdity to illustrate his point.

Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Each of us has a role to play in the body of Christ. It is a role that God has gifted you to play, and despite your humility and claims to the contrary, the truth is, you are good at your role, because God has made you good at that role, and you functioning in that role is critical to advancing the kingdom of Christ. Two important aspects of this truth are 1) it is important for each of us to function within our own role because it is ours in which to function, and 2) it is important that we not try to function in someone else’s role because that is their role. By trying to function in someone else’s role, I may well hinder them, and while I am busy messing with their role, my own role is suffering because I am not giving it my due attention.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

Twitter – @DamonJGray
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Damon J. Gray

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