The morning after Super Bowl 51, I listened to a local sports talk radio program where the announcers debated whether this was the greatest win or the worst loss in Super Bowl history. In this American football championship game, the New England Patriots overcame a 19-point deficit in the final 15 minutes to tie the score with the Atlanta Falcons, and then went on to win the game in sudden-death overtime by scoring a touchdown. No other team had come back from so large a deficit to win this highly prized game—nor had any team given up so many points so quickly to lose in overtime. The conquering team, the Patriots, went home to a victory parade, while the Falcons left to reflect on “what could have been.”
Our world looks at winning and losing from an “either-or” perspective: Either you win, or you lose. Champion or loser. Hero or scapegoat. There is a strong pull to translate this viewpoint to life, even our spiritual life. People often view spiritual health from outward appearances or circumstances. Some will even categorize people as “winners” or “losers” based on successes or failures in life. But God doesn’t operate that way. He loves losers and chose some of the worst to be transformed and used to bring His grace to the world. In the Old Testament, a man named Job was labeled a loser and enemy of God by his so-called friends because of the personal suffering and losses this man experienced in life. The lie of Job’s counselors’ viewpoint was exposed by God when He spoke to Job about His sovereign power, even in times of loss, and his compassionate plans to restore Job.
Consider some other people the world labeled as losers that God chose for significant roles in His plan: A prostitute named Rahab, a hated tax collector named Matthew, a murder-approving man named Paul, and the list goes on and on.
Some of the so-called “winners” of Jesus’ time actually walked away from the Son of God who created them and offered them an amazing life and eternity, including a rich young ruler, celebrity politicians, and esteemed religious leaders. The temptation of earthly successes is that we can believe the lie that we don’t need God, or even that He exists. This belief works until our world starts crashing down around or within us.
Winning and losing in God’s economy has nothing to do with earthly perceptions, accomplishments or status. With God, it’s not about your past—wins, losses, successes, or failures—it’s about your heart, and willingness to be open to the present (gift) of His presence (in your being) in the present (right now) all the way into eternity.
Jesus turned the world’s notion of winning and losing upside down. Here are some of His world-altering words:
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” Matthew 20:26
“Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
Matthew 16:25 NIV
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” Matthew 5:3 The Message
Jesus was categorized by many as the ultimate loser as he hung beaten, bleeding, and dying on a criminal’s cross at Golgotha, aka Calvary. His death looked like the biggest, most stunning loss of all time. But three days later that so-called defeat was revealed as the greatest victory of ALL time when Jesus arose from the dead.
Jesus’ loss on the cross is our biggest gain: an intimate, forever relationship with God bought by the very life-blood of Christ. His greatest victory is also ours. For all who say “yes” to Him, Christ promises an eternity with Him, in a perfect new heaven and earth where we will be given new, resurrected bodies like His.
There’s a song written by Sandi Patti that sums it up:
“In heaven’s eyes there are no losers
In heaven’s eyes no hopeless cause
Only people like you with feelings like me
Amazed by the grace we can find
In heaven’s eyes.”
Even though we were once all losers, we are now victors because of Jesus Christ. That’s cause for celebration—and worship.
God bless you.