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Time to reframe the struggle
pastor corner

Pastor Devin Strong, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church.

Now we know that the Cincinnati Bengals will play the LA Rams Super Bowl in LVI where an estimated 96.4 million of us will be watching, including me. I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I will watch the Super Bowl just the same because it’s exciting to see the best of the best compete against each other.

Competition is necessary.

It pushes us and challenges us, but is competition all that there is? These days kids compete with each other not just on the sports fields and in the band rooms but also in the classrooms for grades and in the lunchroom for popularity. The rest of us compete at work for promotions and corner offices.

We even strive to get as many “likes” as we can on social media.

Then we settle in to watch people on TV compete for who is the best survivor, the best singer, and the best baker. I fear that competition has overtaken our culture.

In my Lutheran tradition and many others. we have been hearing from the Apostle Paul on Sunday mornings. This time around, I am especially struck by Paul’s use of the metaphor of the human body in 1 Corinthians 12. He writes, “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body.” The Apostle’s point is not just that we all need to get along together. It is much more radical than that. He is saying that you and I are dependent on each other for our very survival, just like the heart and the mind, the hand and the foot depend on each other.

Yes, we need goals to reach for, obstacles to overcome, but must my success always mean your failure? Can’t we reframe the struggle?

Perhaps the obstacle can be the problem that we are trying to solve. For example, we could cooperate to make sure that every child in this country has enough to eat or that every family has an affordable place to live. Perhaps we could work to dramatically reduce the number of abortions in this country or to keep patrol officers much safer. We might go about them differently, but surely, we can all agree that these are worthy goals.

We might imagine that the obstacle to be overcome is the past. I, for one, have enough to do just trying to be a more faithful Christian than I was yesterday to worry about beating you. Even better, perhaps you and I can work together to help you become the happiest, most successful person that you can possiblely be. That’s in my best interest, too!

Certainly, I am safer and better off if you are living your best life because you will probably help make a better world for me to live in and help me be better along the way.

Go ahead and enjoy the Super Bowl. I will. But let’s both begin to dream that there is more to life than competition.

God Loves you, and so do I!

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