I attended a very small private High School.  There were only eleven in my graduating class.  This was in the days prior to the plethora of private schools that offer full athletic programs that rival public schools.  We competed with the public schools because that was all there was to play, but our school population was dwarfed by the size of most of the schools we played.  We contended, but rarely won.  I remember how easy it was to get used to losing because it seemed no matter how hard we played, we could not beat the schools with the larger student bodies.  I am reminded of this phenomenon as I contemplate the spiritual life of the follower of Christ.  A number of factors weigh heavy on us to inflict this losing syndrome.  If we are not careful, we can get used to losing in our spiritual lives as well.

One such factor is our insistence on relegating all the blessings of our relationship with the Father through the Son to the future.  The prevailing escatalogical approach tends to see this life as a nuisance to be avoided and that we will some day escape for the “sweet by-and-by.”  Witness the varied reactions of the “believers” in the latest guess at the date of the rapture.  Some sold all they had or gave it away thinking they would not need it because they were out of here.  I was puzzled by the almost complete lack of compassion for those to be left behind, who would then suffer at the hand of unrestrained evil.  If this world is only a temporary stopover before some future rapture, then why fight it.  There is no need to win because the cavalry will ride over the hill and save us just before we are destroyed.  It is easy to develop a losing mentality when your only hope is escaping this place as it inevitably spirals down the toilet of history.

Another factor is that same inevitable resistance that we encounter whenever we try to be creative or do good.  We can be selfish and waste time and experience not conflict, but attempt to better yourself or be productive and you meet resistance head on.  You can call it evil or simply the result of the Fall.  It is always confronting you, putting you in conflict with yourself and others.  Resistance comes in the form of sickness, persecution and suffering, just to name a few.  It wears you down and no matter how much faith you have, you can still be seduced into thinking that this is just the way it is.  You begin to believe that there is nothing you can do about it.  Pain and suffering are part of life, but they do not have to rule us.  Yet again, we can easily fall prey to the predator of forgetting how to win.

Our world gives us no hope.  I marvel at the prevalence of the popular notion of some kind of apocalypse that will destroy the world and only a few people will be left to survive against a very hostile planet.  Militant environmentalist seem to promote an ecosystem that will some day reek revenge on self-serving human beings for the ravages we have inflicted on the earth.  There are wars and rumors of wars.  The economy seems unfixable and it takes all of our energy just to keep our head above water.  It is easy to feel like a loser when you are told that is all you will amount to in the news everyday.  The hopelessness of society can play a part in making us feel like losers.

The reality is we are losers, which explains why we feel like one.  Left to ourselves we are utter failures no matter how hard we work.  We can never measure up.  Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, puts this in Kingdom perspective and leads us to understand who we are under His rule.

Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”  Robert Capon describes the citizens of the Kingdom of God as the littlest (Mat 19:14), the last (Mat 19:30), the lost (Luke 15), the lowest (John 13:12-16), and the least (Mat 25:40).  The Kingdom of God is for losers because that is all we are without Christ.  We are made winners in Him.  Without the work of the Son and the continued ministry of the Holy Spirit, we are helpless, hapless and hopeless.  We are losers, but He makes us winners!

Romans 8:35-39 -  35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Is there a bigger loser than a sheep meant for slaughter?  The enemy means to bring trials and tribulations and distresses and hardships and persecution and famine and poverty and threat of life and even war into our lives to make us feel like losers.  Jesus beat him to it.  He proclaims us spiritually bankrupt and morally destitute and then offers us amnesty from our alien status apart from the Father.  The Kingdom is for losers because He is the biggest winner of all and the way of the Kingdom is to win by losing!  It was Jesus’ sacrifice that defeated sin, the devil and death.  His loss is our gain.  The Kingdom works opposite from this world.  If you lose your life, you gain it, but if you try to hold on to it, you lose it.  In Him, that is Jesus Christ, the Son, we are super-winners!  We are champions of the world!

It may seem like we are losing and that is the most common reason for forgetting how to win.  But because the Kingdom is invisible, we must maintain our faith to see it.  Because the Kingdom is eternal, we must trust the Father to deliver us into it.  Losing is easy.  Anyone can do it.  It can become a habit and we can forget how to win.  Remind yourself everyday that you are a winner in Him!  Stand on the immovable, your faith.  Add to your faith obedience and trust in God.  Forgotten how to win?  Join the club and let’s overcome together!

1 John 5:4-5:  4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?