Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Scorecard

. . . not many of you were wise according to worldly standards (1 Corinthians 1:26).

Over the weekend the winner of the 2012 Heisman Trophy was announced.

There is usually an element of drama or ‘hype’ surrounding this event. The Heisman is awarded annually to the most outstanding college football player in the country, a selection made by 928 votes: 870 journalists, 57 former Heisman winners, and 1 vote representing ‘the fans.’

This year the award went to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, nicknamed ‘Johnny Football.’ This is a historic selection in that Manziel is the first freshman to win the Heisman.

On Saturday evening before the announcement was made, my son and I were in the car listening to ESPN radio as a panel of commentators debated the merits of this year’s contenders for the Heisman. What criteria should be considered and how much weight should each factor receive in determining the most fitting recipient of the award? How do age, overall record, and position played factor into the decision?

In other words, what is the scorecard for determining the best college football player in the country? Apparently, it’s not a precise science. The process is hardly free of bias and subjectivity. But the scorecard exists and this year a freshman quarterback met the standards.

Scorecards are not restricted to the world of sports. The world we live in has a scorecard and we live with it every day.

We will receive no trophy. We are not the focus of frenzied media coverage. But in some way or another we’re continually asking ourselves if we measure up. We spend our energies every day proving to others that we do. The scorecard might be as simple as what we possess, what we’ve achieved, and who we know. The game is exhausting.

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth he reminded them that God’s scorecard differed greatly from the scorecard of the culture in which they lived: noble birth, wisdom, power and all the trappings of success – none of these things mattered when it came to God’s grace. God’s scorecard is not at all like ours.

At this season of the year we need to hear Paul’s words again. We need to hear them because Christmas is a clear reminder of God’s disregard for the world’s scorecard. Whenever we tell the story about a young virgin, shepherds in the field, and a baby in a manger we see the truth set forth plainly: God chooses the weak and foolish to silence the arrogant boasting the powerful and wise. We’ll spend this week reflecting on the Christmas story in light of Paul’s surprising words.

What’s the scorecard that you’ve been using as you live your life? What are the criteria by which you determine that you’re doing ok?

Too many of us, O God, know the Christmas story but know little about your grace. We live our days using a scorecard that you’ve not given us, striving to prove our worth. Bring this familiar story to life in us that we might know your power and love through the gift of your son, in whose name we pray. Amen.

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