blog | 31.10.19
It’s the biggest match of your lives. It’s the match you’ve been building up to for years, if not decades. But it’s a match that must not define you.
The pressure you face externally is immense. The former players and past winners are all chipping in, talking about the life transforming qualities of becoming a World Cup winner. The game is huge, but it’s a match that must not define you.
It’s a match to enjoy, to cherish. It’s an achievement to be proud of and delight in. Mike Tindall has rightly said:
“Don't let nerves get in the way of this. Go out there and make sure this is the game you enjoy the most out of all the games you've played. Look at your team-mates and know that they've got your back and you've got theirs.”
It’s one of the great joys of the game, to play using every ounce of your talent to try and win and compete and then to do that with your mates. This is why sport is glorious! It’s an opportunity to use the gifts and the talents that have been given to you - that’s right, given to you. Given to you by the creator of all things. Your sport, your rugby is a gift. Rugby is a joy, but it must not define you.
You are not just a rugby player. You are not purely a World Cup finalist. Come Saturday you are not only a World Cup winner or only a World Cup loser. Your performance, the result, must not define you.
So what should define you? What should you allow to define you? Your rugby career which is over in a blink of an eye? Your performance on Saturday which depends on so many factors? Your friends? Your family?
Jonny Wilkinson has reflected on the 2003 triumph and has said:
“If you are grounded, it can be amazing. If your feet are not planted in something deeper, it can feel like, 'what the hell is going on?”
What does it mean to be grounded then? In what do you need to be grounded? The heart of the good news of Jesus Christ is an offer of total security. Jesus offers total freedom and a path away from the fear of “what if?” Jesus Christ is the ‘something deeper’ in which to be grounded. If you trust in Jesus Christ He becomes what defines you.
“For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
That could say “there is neither rugby player or non, winner or loser, World Champion or not.”
If you are in Christ; your performance, your victory, your defeat, does not need to define you. Instead of playing with fear you can play with freedom and thankfulness. You are loved in-spite of who you are, not because of it. You are loved not because of what you do, but because of what Jesus has done.
Jonny Wilkinson is surely right - your feet need to be planted in something deeper. The Bible’s claim is that the only solid and secure ground is found in trusting in Jesus Christ who loves you no matter what happens, even in the most important match you will play. In Him, your identity is totally secure.
So go for it! Really go for it! If you lose, grieve as you must. If you win, celebrate with joy. But never forget in winning or losing, despair or exhilaration, if you belong to Christ his love for you is forever unchanging, regardless of your performance or the result. That’s why this match does not need to define you.
Christians in Sport is a UK based charity that aims to reach the world of sport for Jesus. We mainly work with sportspeople in competitive and elite sport.
Registered Charity England and Wales 1086570.
Registered Charity Scotland SCO45299.
Company number: 4146081
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