Today is Groundhog Day. But yesterday was an even more important day. Why? Today is Groundhog Day. But yesterday was an even more important day. Why? Today is Groundhog Day. But yesterday was an even more important day. Why? OK, enough reference to Bill Murray and the movie Groundhog Day. But that movie does have something to say to this left-handed, right-brained Kingdom pastor.
Yesterday was a most important day for us in the South. If you are scratching your head wondering what was so important about yesterday, I would suggest you move out of the South and go back to where you came from. Just kidding! It was National Signing Day! For those of you reading this but are unfamiliar with this significant day I will explain it. It is the day when 17 and 18-year-old boys who have been offered the opportunity to go to college for free, cleverly disguised as a Football Scholarship, can publicly announce where they will attend college–to play football of course.
These young athletes have been carefully analyzed by so-called experts and assigned a rating called “stars”. They range from being 1 star players to 5 star players. The goal of every football coach is to get as many 5 star prospects as possible. The belief is that the more 5-Stars that you have, the more likely you are to have a successful football program. Now what does all this have to do with the Kingdom Life? Glad you asked.
Sometimes we, the Church, get caught up in evaluating (that’s a nice way of saying “judging”) people in how much someone has to contribute to success in life. All of these high school players are evaluated based on past performances with the assumption that these past performances will be expressed in the future, which is at a different level. And what I have observed is that some 5-Star athletes turn into 0-Star athletes because their past performances were not enough at the next level.
Case in point from the Bible–Samuel’s trip to look for a replacement king. Samuel is at home of one Jesse because God told Samuel that’s where the replacement king would be found. Consciously or unconsciously, Samuel brought with him a 1-5 Star rating system based on external appearances, similar to the “experts” judging of athletes past performances. Samuel picked a 5-Star at first, but God corrected him. And for Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters who engage in the same process, I love to quote this passage:
Here’s the Kingdom Truth for anyone today who has ever been rated (that is “judged”) by a set of external criteria: Talent can only get you so far in life–and it is not enough to get you to where you need to be. This is for those “5-Stars” who think they have it all and are great for the company, family and even the Church. Some of those 5-Star football athletes fail not for lack of talent, but for lack of heart, resolve and determination. They never reach their full potential.
And if you are one of those who have been rated a “1-Star or less” there is a Kingdom Truth for you. You are not bound to your past IF you are willing to give your heart to Jesus. Yes, God sees your stained and painful past. He saw it all as His Son was nailed to that cruel Cross. And that was more than enough to cover over, pay the price and wipe away the debt for anyone, everyone, and even you. We call it Grace.
And now back to my opening reference to the movie Groundhog Day. In that movie Murray keeps looping back to the morning of February 2 until he realizes that there is more to life than what he had been doing. He can only move forward to February 3 if he decides to make a difference in the lives of others. And though the movie never says directly that it is about living life for The Kingdom of God, to me at least, the reference is clear.
Groundhog Day, both the date and the movie by this name, remind us that our future cannot be determined by mindless events, or human predictions. There is another future out there for us–a future that is hopeful and truly makes a difference in the lives of other people. And we can become a part of this when we shed the “Stars”, or lack of “Stars” put on us by others, and realize that when God looks at our heart, the very heart that bears HIS Image, and knows what we can become when we give Him control of our whole life.
His presence, through the Holy Spirit, makes all the difference in our future. Oh, you may not make the headlines at ESPN, but you will make the headlines in the hearts and minds of others who finally see Jesus through you. God has something special for you. Do not think to highly of yourself, or too low. He knows you are a 5-Star even when the world has written you off.