Viewing your arch-rival in sport and life as the neighbour God instructs you to love as much as you love yourself, is pretty mind-bending and counter cultural! It’s made even harder if you don’t like yourself or your opponent very much. Father, Son and Spirit overflow in love towards us, and offer us the loving context and faith community within which, and from which, to mature in the love, with which we are loved. Whether it’s Monopoly, Fortnite or Football I play, I’m very good at interpreting rules to suit myself in order to increase my chances of winning. I have to check myself, not just in the name of fair play and for the benefit of my adversary, but for my own benefit and training to be more like ‘Trinity’ my model captain, coach and manager .
I once believed there were only two types of loser, ‘good losers’ and ‘those who can’t act’, now I know a third way, forcing myself to go against the grain and recognise rivals as ‘beloved of God’. It doesn’t mean playing with less intensity! I wouldn’t want an opponent to let me win; rather by playing our best we can help each other improve as iron sharpens iron. The ‘win at all costs’ mentality of much modern sport has turned the original meaning of ‘competition’ on its head. The Latin ‘Competere’ literally means ‘to strive together’ rather than ‘strive against’. Such a higher view of competition can give us the best view of rules and their role.
Great pioneer and perfecter of our Faith,
forgive me for thinking only of myself at times,
with no regard to how others feel around me.
Forgive me for failing to recognise in my enemy, opponent or rival,
a human you love and command me to love too.
I praise you for the intensity of your passionate love for me,
family and friends,
and for how much you love my foes
and those I find it hard to get on with.
You are truly stunning in your sacrificial loving,
keep me ever learning in your ‘down-to-earth’ Agape Academy.
25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”