The Comparison Game
From Ballers to Apostles
Sometimes making comparisons can be dangerous and, oftentimes, humiliating.
During my time playing high school basketball in the late 1970's and early 80's, there were two players in the NBA that I attempted to "pattern my game after". One was Dr. Julius Erving (Dr. J) of the Philadelphia 76ers. The other was Larry Bird (the original Larry Legend - sorry, Larry "The Legend" Castle) of the Boston Celtics.
Now, comparing my skill to that of these two Hall of Famers is certainly a bit of a joke, but in my mind as an 18-year-old, I had GAME . . . .
But the reality was that I would never be comparable to Dr. J. The guy could jump out of the gym and run like a gazelle. His athleticism was off the charts.
However, in regards to Larry Legend, I could actually see some similarities (granted, I might have been the only one to see them). Larry was a blue-collar, non-jumper, non-gazelle, non-super athlete that could flat out score! And scoring was my thing . . .
The comparisons I saw caused me to be a huge fan of Larry Legend because I could relate better to him than I could the high-flyin' Dr. J.
Now let's move from comparisons with ball players to comparisons with great characters in the Bible that I find myself relating to.
I could probably be compared to the Apostle Peter: the guy with the foot-shaped mouth. I would not be compared to Timothy, who was known as Mr. Timid Timothy. And I could probably be compared to Doubting Thomas when I have some "crisis of belief" moments.
But what I would love is to be compared to the Apostle Paul - the laser-focused apostle who, in life and in death, was completely fixated on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh, how I want to be like the Apostle Paul and to have his laser focus!
Consider these verses about Paul's focus:
"For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
"For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only
to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."
This Sunday, at our 9:30 and 11am services, we will be looking at the laser-like focus of the Apostle Paul as he focused - in life and in death - on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We will see this focus clearly in Philippians 1:12-21. I encourage you to read this passage several times before Sunday. Verse 17 is where we will notice the beginning of Paul's focus as he received his "appointment for the defense of the gospel".
My goal this Sunday, October 14, as we look at Philippians 1:12-21 is to compare our lives and our focus to that of the Apostle Paul.
It seems like there are a lot of similarities in the Apostle Paul's life and our own. We were sinners in need of a Savior and the Holy Spirit came into our lives, opening our eyes to Jesus - the only Savior there is. We were baptized, we've grown in our understanding of Jesus, and we've been called to tell others the good news about Him. All of this is true of the Apostle Paul as well.
But that's where the comparison often ends. Yes, the start of our stories is comparable, but the focus that Paul had on the gospel in life and in death is where our stories seem to diverge - at least for me.
I am challenged to look more like Paul. More like the disciple who was consumed with the gospel of Jesus Christ, in life and in death.
Come out this Sunday and let's see together how our lives compare to the Apostle Paul's and his laser-like focus on the Gospel.
My prayer is this: Father God, help me to focus on the Gospel and to proclaim it to ALL just as the Apostle Paul did.
Hope to see you Sunday,