Fever and confidence for victory
In the last few weeks, Australia has wholeheartedly embraced the Matildas’ (Australian teams’) campaign for the FIFA Women’s Soccer World Cup. The quarter-final match with France and the semi-final match with England whipped up such a fever that even the Prime Minister suggested a public holiday should the Matildas win. The Matilda stars are looked upon as national heroes, and the kids adore them and aspire to be like them. National pride is at stake. Their success is bringing a new image and aspiration for Australian women’s soccer.
I can’t help but contrast this with Australia’s apathy towards a much more important contest: that between our Saviour and Satan. Even among Christ's people, there is frequently a lack of joy and celebration for Christ's victory on the cross. Sure, that is talked about as routine rhetoric within the church, but with little conviction and heart engagement. Not only has Christ won the battle for us, He is fighting mop-up wars each day on our behalf. The former is pivotal for our eternal destiny and the latter for our abundance of life and joy each day. His victory is also a matter of national pride, i.e. the glory of Christ's nation and His kingdom. How can we capture the fever for Christ’s victory, as it deserves? How can we avail ourselves of the joy of ultimate victory that Christ shares with us?
I listened to a talk-back show on the radio while driving this week. People were asked to share about their excitement & nervousness during the deciding penalty shoot-out in the Matildas-French match. Many (both ladies and men) said they were so nervous that they couldn’t keep watching the game on TV. Some walked out to come back later for the final result. Others peeped behind some object or between their fingers. Undoubtedly, it was the same for last Wednesday’s match of the Matildas with England. The separation between victory and defeat was paper thin. So much uncertainty. So much depended on every one of the players performing flawlessly at all times. So much was at stake, and yet the supporters could do nothing to help the outcome. Unfortunately, the Matildas lost to England on Wednesday, and Australia’s hope of winning the cup was dashed. We are still very proud of the Matildas, but nothing can change the outcome, and we could only ponder what could have been.
This Sunday, we are studying Romans Chapter 9, touching on one of the most perplexing theological issues in the Bible: God’s sovereign election. It is not easy or even possible to fully understand it. It is a fact that we need to accept as God’s revealed truth that is beyond human logic to understand (just like the doctrine of the Trinity is). If we can accept that truth by faith, it is a source of tremendous comfort and confidence. If we are sure of our faith in Christ, which we can discern by honest reflection, we know we are God’s elect, and our salvation is sure. We will never be lost (Jn 10:28). The victory over sin and death for us is not like a soccer game, wherein victory and defeat are separated by a paper-thin margin, and could fall either way. Our victory does not depend on us performing to perfection. God has already won the victory for us. Unlike how we went into last Wednesday’s game, hoping for the best, we know we are saved, and the final outcome is never in doubt. What a blessing! What an assurance! Praise the Lord.