If you are a soccer fan, or if you are following the World Cup, then you probably know that FIFA is facing a potential nightmare in the upcoming USA-Germany match. What is this nightmare? Hatred between the teams? Political or religious differences? Terrorist threats? No, no, & no.
Actually, the nightmare issue is just a fluke in the points-based tournament system of the World Cup. Based upon current standings, the best chance that both teams have to get into the next round is to “sit down, pick some grass, have a nap, and do absolutely nothing” (http://www.cbc.ca/sports/soccer/brazil2014/fifa-faces-nightmare-scenario-with-usa-germany-match-1.2685210) #CBCWorldCup.
And, believe it or not, it has happened before. In 1982, it was known as the “non-aggression pact of Gijon.” In that game, West Germany and Austria needed West Germany to win by 1 point. After West Germany scored a goal, both sides effectively sat on the ball and ran the clock out for 80 minutes! Both teams were shamed, the fans were furious, and it was a black mark on the sport for quite some time.
The likelihood of a repeat of ’82 is small. The USA team is known for always giving its best and not engaging in faked injuries and other drama typical of these games (ie., Suarez the shoulder biting guy). Germany has pledged to play hard also. I can’t help but wonder though – do Christians often make non-aggression pacts too?
Most of us don’t like confrontation. So we tend to have a non-spoken “draw” agreement when it comes to sins – our own and those of our brothers and sisters. The mantra of today is, “You don’t bother me and I won’t bother you…and we will ‘game the system’ so we both go to heaven by getting along and going along.” It is easier to avoid conflict than to challenge each other to do better.
The problem? There is a “great cloud of witnesses,” (Hebrews 12:1) watching down on us. And while that passage is more about deeds of faith than actual witnesses, it might be helpful to picture the disappointment of “fans” who expected us to defend the faith and spur each other on. Will we disgrace their sacrifices by taking a draw?
Do we really believe that we can please God and enter heaven on a “draw” technicality? Once baptized, the tendency of some Christians is to “sit down, pick some grass, have a nap, and do absolutely nothing.” The grace Jesus offers by His blood is sufficient to save us. But surely we can do better than to hope to remain covered in that grace by “non-aggression pacts.”
There is no doubt that we should encourage each other, love each other, and be united and of one mind with each other. But we must remain vigilant against sin. Is it difficult to go in by the small and narrow gate? Yes, but it leads to life (Matthew 7:14). God knows the difference between those who are faking it and those who are giving it their all. Commit to Christ, and remain faithful unto death. If you do, there is a crown of righteousness stored up for you (2 Timothy 4:8).