Athlete, Prepare for Upsets


Athlete, Prepare for Upsets

Jason Cooper

1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV)

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

For March Madness one year, I read to our three-year-old daughter every match-up in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket. Then she said whom she thought would win every game, all the way to the championship.

The first game I asked her about was Virginia vs. UMBC. Virginia was a No.1 seed and UMBC was a No. 16 seed. A No. 16 had never beaten a No. 1. I chose the strong and the obvious in Virginia.

But when I asked her, “Who is going to win, UMBC or Virginia?” She said, “UMBC.” I chuckled to myself. She chose the weak. This is funny, I thought. (A day later UMBC toppled Virginia.)

In her bracket, our daughter made several picks that made no sense. She picked lowly teams to beat powerhouses. But going into the Sweet 16, she had 27 games right and I had 26.

I think God’s brackets look like our daughter’s, laden with upsets. Think of God’s choices and ways in the Scriptures. Many of them do not make sense to us, like our daughter’s choices didn’t make sense to us.

It seems safe to predict that Christ’s coming judgement and God’s kingdom will have similarities to March Madness. Here are a few points that expose God’s counterintuitive approach:

1) “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

2) God often used (and uses) the weak instead of the strong and the obscured instead of the obvious.

3) God chose to redeem through Israel, a tiny and weak nation.

4) God does not judge people by appearances, nor by how they speak, look or dress, as we do.

5) God defeated death in an illogical way: by the death and resurrection of His Son. He brings new life into our present lives through a type of death and resurrection too.

6) God topples giants and raises up the lowly.

7) He treats the undignified with dignity.

8) He picks dubious characters (like you and me).

Athlete, do you share God’s counterintuitive approach? Or do you choose things by their appearance or how much power they seem to possess?

Is your heart always set on the obvious and strong — the “Virginias of life” — or do you have a soft spot for the UMBCs?

Action: Take a No. 16 seed over a No. 1 today. I’m not sure what that might mean for you, but it will require you to look below the surface. It will probably make you feel uneasy too.


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