The previously hapless Cleveland Browns had not won a game during the entire 2017 season. Their record—0 and 16—no wins, sixteen losses… While I’m not a fan of the Brownies (as people like to call them), I felt badly for them. No one should go winless for an entire season. It’s got to be excruciating. I played on a couple of bad teams in my lifetime, but I’ve never gone through anything like that.
During the prior season of 2016, the Cleveland NFL franchise won only one game. I got out my calculator and discovered that adds up to one victory over a two-year span. My guess is that it’s really tough being a follower of that team—at least over the past couple of years.
What brings this to mind is a video clip I saw this past Sunday. The Browns had finally won another game. They had beaten the New York Jets by the score of 21-17. The site of the video was a bar in downtown Cleveland. The fans were going wild, and they were singing the old Queen hit, “We Are the Champions.” You have to take the joy wherever you can find it.
I don’t think I’m revealing any secrets when I say that we really emphasize winning in our culture. No one wants to be a loser. In fact, few of us even want to be associated with a loser. Even in sports, I’ve seen a lot of die-hard fans ultimately reject their team after a few losing seasons. I’ve never been able to become that fickle, but it’s not uncommon these days. So when I see the Browns fans singing and celebrating, it makes me feel good.
Invite the Winner
Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame) once wrote a song entitled, “The Winner.” It was an invitation to “invite the Winner into your heart.” The Winner for Stookey is Jesus. He basically describes some of the actions of people who make decisions that put them on the losing side of life. Then, Stookey offers us an alternative. He says, “You get to choose.” The choice is between the one who brings us together and the one who tears us apart. His choice is Jesus, the Winner. Having the Winner in our lives makes us winners as well.
It’s interesting how, sometimes, having an MVP type player on your team will make all the difference. I’ve noticed how true this usually is in games like basketball, for instance. Having a Shaquille O’Neal, a Michael Jordan, or a LeBron James on your team puts you over the top. Every team needs a winning attitude as well as someone who knows how to win.
In that sense, Jesus is our MVP. Without him, we’re losers. With him, we are the champions of the world—make that the universe.
Along with the Apostle Paul, I urge you to “press on toward the goal to win the prize.” Just don’t try to do it without Jesus.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]