This week in the Christian education class I teach at King's Ridge, we've started the book of John and are smack in the middle of working through the prologue. What that means is on the syllabus were supposed to be at verse 18 and because I am more and more amazed by John's words at the beginning of his Gospel we have barely made it out of verse 1. Every time I prepare and teach through the Gospel of John, the prologue floors me. John's words at the beginning of his Gospel are so profound and have such a deep impact on how I view God, that I desire more and more that the students try to grasp what John is saying.
For reference purposes, the first 5 verses of John say the following:
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
– John 1:1-5
Outside of all the implications this has on how we understand Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or how these five verses where the root for our most historical church creeds, what it says about God's creative power is astounding. In verse 3, John tells us that there is nothing on this planet or outside of this planet or in existence that was not made by Christ “the Word.” Nothing. As I was walking through this idea with our students yesterday, I asked them if they understood what this meant. One student raised her hand and said everything I can see, smell, touch, taste, and hear God has created. While I appreciated her sentiment, I asked her if God was limited to only making things that the human senses could perceive. She immediately said no and it dawned on the class that everything in creation from the farthest star in the sky to the microcosms of the brain of a Catapillar, our God created. Nothing was made except through Him.
In the sports world that has massive implications. The feet you run with, made by God. The legs you squat with, made by God. Your genetic make up that allows you to jump so high, God formed it. The organ systems and body systems that allow you to be so good at your sport, God's idea. The length of your wingspan, not an accident but God's specific design. Nothing about how we play sports, the body we have to play those sports, and the success we see in them is to our own credit.
With the students, I asked them what their first question when they see an amazing piece of art or an awesome sculpture or a really cool painting? They do what we all do, they look to the bottom corner to see who painted it. The same should be true of the talent we exhibit on our sports fields. When we do something great or when we are elevated because of our talent at a specific skill, we should point people immediately to our Creator. (as a sidenote we should do this regardless of success or not) It would be no different than looking at an amazing piece of art and giving no credit to the artist but instead making much of the art itself. When people see our success or our abilities or our talent it makes no sense for them not to see and give glory to the one who created that success talent and ability.
The power of John 1:1-3 is that John leaves no room for human credit. We cannot boast in our own success, our own talent, or in our own ability. It was not self created nor was it under our control. Verse 3 should be a good mantra for Christian athletes around the world. Remember that everything that was made, including the sport that you are competing in, Jesus is responsible for. He deserves the credit and the glory.
The world tells us that we are capable of fixing ourselves. The world tells us that if we work hard enough and we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and we grit our teeth and make things happen, that we are in control. The world tells us that we are the master of your own fate and that we can make ourselves good at anything we desire as long as we work hard. The world tells us we deserve the credit and the glory for that as well. Some of that is true, hard work does produce results. But the Gospel tells us that we are in capable. That God through Christ is the only capable one. Talent, ability and even work ethic where his idea and his creation. The Gospel does not allow us to believe we are own ends It tells us that we are in need of help and that anything good we do is God working in us and through us for His glory. And for that reason he deserves the credit.