The Browns

“Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to take hold of it. But one thing I will absolutely do is this; forget what is behind me and strain towards what is ahead. I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:12-14

The Cleveland Browns haven’t won an NFL championship since 1964.

They haven’t been to NFL championship game since 1969, or an AFC championship game since 1989. When they finally made it that far in 86′, 87′, and 89′, they lost to the same team every time, John Elway’s Denver Broncos.

The Browns last playoff appearance was a wildcard game back in 2002, during which they gave up the lead to Tommy Maddox late in the game and lost.

In 2007 they barely missed the playoffs to the Steelers and since they returned in 1999, they have been consistently at the bottom of their division and they have gone through twenty-six different starting quarterbacks.

The Browns are widely considered the worst team in the NFL. (Sorry Cleveland fans.)

I want you to pretend that you have been one of these lifelong fans, committed to the franchise, despite the obvious allure of switching teams and rooting for someone else. Let’s say that at the beginning of the upcoming 2017 season, the Browns held a press conference to announce some big news:

They have finally achieved it. After countless losing season, years of hard work, perseverance, scores of starting QBs, endless head coaches and coordinators, they’ve finally reached their goal: they are the friendliest team in football.

Wait, sorry. What?

Friendliest team in football?

“Yes,” they announce, proudly. “We all get along very well. Better, in fact, than other teams.”

Yes, you think. But you haven’t won a game.

 

For many of us, this is exactly how we treat our spirituality.

In the passage above, the Apostle Paul clearly identifies the goal of his call into Christianity. He has absolute, stunning, vivid clarity around why he is here. And so he fights for it, strains for it, works for it with every fiber of his being, knowing he will one day stand at the finish line and give an account for how he performed here.

How many Christians are unaware of their calling? They have lost track of the goal.

Instead of, then, focusing on wins, they become content simply to:

-get along famously with their spouses,
-manage their finances into impeccable order,
-go on lots of great trips,
-attend world-class conferences.

But when the Master comes to settle accounts, he isn’t going to want to see your portfolio- he’s going to want to know what you did with what He entrusted to you (Matthew 25:14-30).

“We had a really great marriage,” seems along the lines of settling for the BFF award on a football team –that’s really great, but it wasn’t the goal.

Do you have clarity around your calling?

Those other things are not bad; they simply are not ultimate.

Don’t confuse secondary things for primary, byproducts for the ultimate. In the end, even byproducts can become counterfeit gods.

Above all else, know Christ:

Count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as your Lord (Philippians 3:8).

Amen.

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