Ah, it is Super Bowl Time again the day many feel should be a holiday. It seems like everyone in America stops to watch the Super Bowl, Super Bowl Sunday one of the most memorable days in the year. What does it take to become a Super Bowl champion?
Although the big game remains hours away, like most people I have a prediction, in fact I can already tell you, which team, will win. The winner of this year’s Super Bowl will be the team that exhibits five specific traits.
The team that has the greatest desire,
The team that is the most disciplined,
The team that has the most determination,
The team that is willing to practice self-denial,
The team that possesses the greatest distinction and character.
That team will undoubtedly, win the Super Bowl!
In football, many people play the game. However, there are only a few that rise to the status of a Super Bowl Champion this year as with every year there are only two teams that will take the field do you know where the rest of the NFL will be on Super Bowl Sunday? At home, perhaps a sports bar, or some type of Super Bowl gathering watching the game along with most churchgoers. What separates a Super Bowl Championship team from the team with the worst record? I am so glad you asked. It is desire, discipline, determination, denial, and distinction, applied day in and day out.
I want to remind you of the other big game played every day, and you are a huge participant in that game and unlike the Super Bowl, the game you are a part of involves eternal consequences.
Much like players in the NFL, only a few Christians will rise to the level of play exhibited by a Super Bowl Champion. So my question for you is what does it take to be a Super Bowl Christian? What separates a champion from a semi-pro, a minor leaguer?
The five traits of a Super Bowl Team are the same traits that define a Super Bowl Christian: desire, discipline, determination, denial, and distinction.
We can find these traits in two passages of scripture.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after…I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
In the Corinthian passage, Paul is speaking of the Isthmian Games were one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, and were named after the isthmus of Corinth, where they were held every two years in Corinth. There, athletes would compete for crowns made of leaves. However, Paul was encouraging Christians to compete for a prize with more lasting significance.
1. THE FIRST TRAIT OF A SUPER BOWL CHRISTIAN IS DESIRE.
Paul says “Run to win!”
Desire is to want something. Great Desire is to want something so badly you can taste it.
Psalm 42:1 – As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
“the highest desire that can possess any heart is a longing to see God.”
Such a desire for God should compel us and propel us to run with all that we have. Unfortunately, instead of going for the gold, we too often settle for silver or bronze. In fact, I’m convinced that most believers never venture too far past the starting line. Instead of straining and pressing on, we get comfortable on the sidelines.
Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
Paul had such a desire. He was the Bart Starr, the Vince Lombardi of early Christianity.
Until you are saved, you have no desires of value. Once saved, you receive worthwhile desires. Yet, desire alone is not sufficient. Desires only take shape when they are accompanied by discipline!
(A lot of us desire to get in shape; but without discipline, it simply will not happen.)
James 4:2 – Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain:
2. THE SECOND TRAIT OF A SUPER BOWL CHRISTIAN IS DISCIPLINE.
Discipline is the fuel of success. You may be the fanciest car in the show room, but without gasoline, you are going nowhere.
Without discipline in the Christian life, you will never grow. You will be forever doomed as a spiritual weakling, easy prey for satan and his team of evil minions.
To attempt to live the Christian life without spiritual discipline would be like climbing into the ring with Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson in their prime. Somebody is going to get hurt – bad!
Paul tells us that a competitor goes into “strict training”. He beat his body into subjection. He strained and pressed on.
Like a body builder who adds more weight and extra reps in order to increase his muscle mass, Paul felt the burn and pushed on past it.
Maturity in Christ does not and will not just happen. It takes hard work.
1 Timothy 4:7 – …exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
Hebrews 12:7 – If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons;
As there are no short cuts to peak physical condition, there are no short cuts to peak spiritual condition.
Tom Landry, the late coach of the Dallas Cowboys has said, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.”
3. THE THIRD TRAIT OF A SUPER BOWL CHRISTIAN IS DETERMINATION.
Focus and commitment…in other words, determination, will determine whether you view Christianity as a recreational sport or a serious full time competition.
Unfortunately, commitment is a dying commodity in our American culture. It is a quality known to prior generations; yet, woefully lacking in the Baby Boomers and the younger generations of today.
When life gets tough, most people will look to other options and alternatives. We see this trend in every area of life today. Determination and “stick-to-it-iveness” have become passé. Yet, a Super Bowl quality performance cannot be achieved without determination.
Every activity in life has their difficulties. Only the committed few will ride out the storms and succeed.
In Philippians 3 Paul says that he pressed on toward the goal. He is focused, he desires to do more than merely participate, he is committed to completing the game, maybe even being the MVP, but above all, he was determined to win his Super Bowl. He didn’t give up on “4th and long”. He kept the end game in mind.
In 1998 Quarterback Tony Rice who is perhaps best remembered as the dynamic option quarterback of the University of Notre Dame’s 1988 National Championship Team under coach Lou Holtz led Notre Dame’s football team to a national championship. However, before the season, sportswriters wondered whether Notre Dame could beat the tough teams with a quarterback like Rice, whose passing often was inaccurate. What they didn’t know was coach Lou Holtz had bought Rice a dart board and told him to practice throwing darts at least an hour a day. Rice didn’t see how that would help his passing, but he did as his coach said. He was committed and focused. Soon he began to throw passes with more accuracy and confidence–both which were evidenced in a banner season.
This step is crucial. Without laser point focus and determination, we fracture off into too many areas. We become double minded. The book of James in 1:8 tells us that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
4. THE FOURTH TRAIT OF A SUPER BOWL CHRISTIAN IS DENIAL.
The key to success in any venue is a willingness to sacrifice self.
Like Tim Tebow, when we are told we aren’t good enough and we can’t measure up, we should agree, saying, “No, I can’t, but God can!” “And I can do all things through Him!” And like Tebow, once God gives us success, we should again remember how we got there, and give Him the glory, denying ourselves.
From what most of us know of Tim Tebow he could have made a lot more endorsement money if he would compromise his convictions. He most likely could have just about any girl he wanted, if he would just drop his standards. He could earn respect from his many ‘haters’ if he would take their hint and stop taking his stand…a stand he clearly takes by self-denial!
Hebrews 12:1 – Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin, which doth so, easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
To sacrifice is to give up something for a specific purpose. Most of the time when you sacrifice you pay a price.
A Super Bowl Christian will sacrifice.
There are things that they will give up, and things that they will take up. They will give up pet sins; they will take up burdensome crosses.
They will give up freedoms; they will take up submission in doing so their time, their thinking, and their actions will be radically changed.
The beauty of sacrifice and the burden of sacrifice is that it is not just a one-time event. The Super Bowl Christian, like the Super Bowl athlete, continually trains and sacrifices. There is no off-season, and no retirement. Paul did not rest on his laurels, not even when he was old. He continued to press on. He knew that the goal line was still a few yards ahead. He would not reach it until he closed his eyes in death.
5. THE FIFTH TRAIT OF A SUPER BOWL CHRISTIAN IS DISTINCTION.
Tim Tebow’s sideline prayers are what make him a champion, not whether he plays professional football or not, the roots of his character as displayed goes well beyond the gridiron. That prayer is distinctive…it stands out. Nevertheless, it is rooted in character.
Charles Reade, English novelist and dramatist, wrote, “Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
Without exception, every successful Super Bowl team has a game plan that integrates all the elements of their training into a winning strategy.
For the Super Bowl Christian character is the element that integrates desire, discipline, determination, and self-denial together. This will make you a Christian of Distinction…making a distinctive difference!
Distinction/Character for the Christian can be defined as Christ-likeness.
To look more and more like the Savior was why Paul trained so hard.
Philippians 3:10 –That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Paul acknowledged that he was not yet there. However, he was moving in that direction. Each day he drew closer because He had the desire, He was disciplined, He was determined, dedicated, committed and focused, He was willing to deny himself, and he was developing godly character distinction.
Paul lost his life to a Roman sword.
With the drawing of his last breath, he crossed the goal line of glory. The time clock sounded and he had won the game. Paul was a Super Bowl Christian. Waiting for him on the other side was a prize…A prize greater than any super bowl ring. For Paul there would be crowns that will last for eternity. It can be that way for us!
In a little while, the game will be over. In the end, one team will emerge victorious. A trophy will be rewarded, Rings will be presented, Cash will be given, Glory will be bestowed, Advertising contracts will be awarded, and one team will have bragging rights for an entire year.
Yet today a greater game of importance is being played, and you are a key player on the field. You have the opportunity to play for eternal rewards. You can win a prize that will never dim. The outcome is up to you.
Will you settle to be a Developmental League Christian, or will you choose to become a Super Bowl Christian.