The Football Coach
May 7, 2023 502
The football coach is important. And so is the champion player.
When I’ve watched live sport, I’ve been struck by how sport is very much like religion for many people. You have the gatherings, the rituals, and the special strange songs that you would never sing anywhere else. You support those around you in the devastation of a loss. You hope and pray for your team to win, and when it does, you feel like a winner too, and it can really get you through the week!
So, that got me thinking, what is Jesus like?
Some people think that Jesus is like a coach. He was once a great player and now he has come back to the sport to impart his passion, and game-winning secrets, and to teach us all how it is done. We all listen to Jesus because here is someone who really knows what he is talking about! He has already won the championship, and we know that if we listen to him and do what he tells us to do, we are going to get a champion’s medal as well! So, we all go out into the field and try to do our best to execute Jesus’ game plan, knowing that if we do well we will be congratulated, and we will be one step closer to achieving what Jesus achieved. After all, if he did it, then by doing the things that he did, we can become champions too. But we also know that if we do badly, we might be taken off the team.
Another very different view of Jesus is that he is a player who comes onto the team. When he plays, he is so amazing and so far above every other player, that he single-handedly wins the championship for them. They can’t even keep up with his skill and his speed. They just sit down and watch him win on their behalf. At the end of the day, every member of the team has won the championship. They all have the winner’s medal around their necks. However, they ended up not being able to contribute to the win at all. The “winning” was all the work of Jesus.
Was Jesus a Coach or a Champion?
Both of these views about what Jesus is like have existed in Christianity since its beginning. And both views have very different outcomes. One view has brought the greatest good to our world, and the other view has brought unending frustration, hypocrisy, and has blackened the name of Christianity.
So, which of these two views is correct? How is it that we get to win the championship of life?
If Jesus is basically just your coach, you will be continually frustrated and disappointed with your inability to perform to his standards. You will feel inadequate and rejected, because in fact, you will be. Just stop and think. It is rightly said of Jesus that “He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.” (1 Pet 2:22). Could you honestly say that of yourself?
We are saved, not because of what we do, but because of what Jesus has done.
Don’t get me wrong, Jesus is a great coach. But if that’s all he is then you’re bound to get booted off the team: you, me, and everyone else. Because there’s no one, absolutely no one, who can live up to the standards he set when he played, and what he expects of his players today!
That’s why I like to think of Jesus more as the star, match-winning player, who single-handedly won the championship for us. Just by being on his team, you get to be a champion too, although you never even got to touch the ball!
Having already won us the championship, then Jesus helps us to develop and grow, not judging us, but encouraging us. It’s like a great player who goes to coach in the little leagues, or junior divisions of the sport.
That’s precisely the picture that the Bible paints about who Jesus is and what he has achieved. We are saved, not because of what we do, but because of what he has done. Jesus is our Saviour first, and our example second.
– Eliezer Gonzalez