Spiritual Training Cycle: Connection (wk. 10/13)
Sports teams and their fans are the most celebrated and popularized communities in the world. The best professional organizations in the world have traditions of success, creating common ground between players and fans, past and present. Fans start to watch their favorite teams as children and pass on the history of their favorite players, championships, and highlight reels to the next generation. Fans get together and celebrate both their wins and painful losses. Communities like this are built on common ground.
Common ground can be created from a shared goal; a belief you can win. In sports, one of the most popular ways to get a team to rally together is through chants. In my experience, the most fun sports chants in the world come from women’s softball teams. Women’s softball is giving cheerleaders a bat, glove, and a willful disregard for losing skin sliding down in the dirt. I grew up with one of these feisty softball ladies and to this day I can still hear her chants from the dugout; getting her team behind her to rally and win multiple tournament championships. My sister could be heard anywhere in the sports complex with her call and answer chants:
“Let’s get fired up!” “We are fired up!”
“Fired up and ready?!”
“Fired up and ready!”
“Our team is alive!!”
“Our team is alive!!”
It still gets me amped up today! We can create common ground through a shared truth, believed by all, and chanted together.
In our spiritual communities today, we are building and maintaining common ground. Commonalities that come from centuries of tradition in the two thousand years since Christ’s death and resurrection. We have a shared goal; a belief that God has won the spiritual battle. We celebrate this victory through songs of praise and worship, acts of service, and prayer. These are all ways we support each other in the faith journey and maintain common ground rooted in Christ.
Prior to the formation of the early church, there wasn’t much common ground across communities. There were plenty of warring tribes, wealth disparity, religious dispute, and any number of other reasons for groups to be separated. There wasn’t a common goal, tradition, or rallying cry. But God had a plan to bring both Jewish and non-Jewish people together by sending Jesus. In John 17:20-22, we see Jesus shedding light on how to build “oneness” with both God the Father and our larger community of believers:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Jesus said this prayer over His disciples to encourage them to share an account of His coming death and resurrection. Their testimony would lead the way to build common ground among future believers and invite them to deeper connection with God.
Peter’s first opportunity to share his testimony of Christ’s death, resurrection, and forgiveness of our sins through His sacrifice can be found in Acts 2:38-39:
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
His testament would lead to a crowd of three thousand people accepting Jesus as their Savior, creating the early church and common ground found in believing in Him!
We find common ground through our sports communities, through watching our favorite teams and athletes, through our cheers and celebrations of thrilling wins. Jesus created common ground through witnessing His sacrifice for us, and our celebration of what He has done for us in forgiving our sins. Are we fired up? Let’s get fired up. Our King is alive.
Questions for Reflection:
What were the ways you connected with people as a kid that look different now as an adult and stronger believer in Christ?
What are some communities where you feel called to share more of Christ’s love?