Encounter: Read or listen to the first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 13, verses 1-13 in the New Living Translation and one other translation. Underline words or phrases that make an impression on you as you meditate on these words of Paul the Apostle.
So, how's your fantasy team shaping up? A recent article on Fox Business takes stock of the United States' fantasy football phenomenon—a mania that's consumed countless hours, and is an industry worth seven billion dollars, according to one research team. All that money goes to a booming fantasy industry—filled with scouting reports, insider magazines, draft conventions, betting and even entire cable channels dedicated to the pastime. (About 59.3 million people in USA and Canada play some form of fantasy sports throughout the year.)
It is not surprising this has become so popular. We live in a culture that wants to get something for themselves the easy way. The motivation is to win and gain something for yourself without actually practicing the plays, or playing a real game, and without really putting skin in the game.
Think for a moment of the sheer magnitude of this collected time, energy, research, and money. There are entire human lifetimes—incalculable hours and moments—and vast fortunes going toward a particularly abstract form of entertainment.
I'm not saying there’s no fun in fantasy leagues, but stats like these are some powerful reminders that our lives are supposed to be about more than dreaming about imaginary draft picks. What could we do if we directed all that energy in a more productive direction? What does it say about our sense of collective stewardship when our real motivations or rule for success is how well we have loved God and one another?
Like in fantasy football, it’s easy to act like you’re playing the game or even imagine you’re playing the game, but it takes actually playing the game and practicing the plays of growing in love for God and for one another to succeed as a player and ultimately as a team
Practicing the plays becomes real in community and it is in our relationships where we see just how much more practice we need. This is not fantasy, this is where God is inviting us to practice real plays. Through worshipping together on Sundays, through gathering with others to grow in Life Groups or Sunday Study Groups, through inviting others to join us serving them in love are all real plays in the real game.
Paul tells us in his letter to the church in Corinth that God’s team has one goal. To grow in love for our Creator and for one another. Paul warns us that spiritual gifts, immovable faith, generosity and even persecution can all be achieved without the right motivation.
Let love be our motivation.
This Sunday we will see how God is calling us to practice, how practicing and playing the game is not just a decision to put on the uniform but to practice for Game Day!
Practicing with You,
Reflect: What do you think Paul means in verses 1-3 when he describes these “Christian” values but explains they are nothing without love. Have you experienced this before? Have you observed this in the church? Have you experienced this in your own life? What is Paul asking us to do?
Encourage: After reading through Paul’s words about what real love looks like. Reach out to a friend, family member or co-worker by writing a letter or telling them how you see this in them.
Gather: Discuss in your small group the challenges of practicing the kind of love Paul has written about here. Share one of those area you have difficulty practicing. Pray for one another to be filled with more love for God and one another. Is there someone you can invite to your Life Group or Sunday Study Group?