Therefore, if anyone is in (Jesus the Christ) the Messiah, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and—look!—all things have become new!
2nd letter of Paul to the Corinthian church chap. 5 verse 17 ISV
If you are an American football fan, the standard in which we look to are the Shula coached 17-0 Miami Dolphins. This team is the only team that could say they won all their season and post season games. Names like Mercury, Csonka, Foley and Yepremian are forever in the annals of history and lore.
If you are a world football fan (Soccer in this country), the 1970 Brazil National team is the epitome of what an undefeated team should look like in any sport.
Why? Because Brazil played in a World Cup. The Brazilian National team had to play in their regional tournament before qualifying for the World Cup tournament. Out of 75 teams vying for a coveted spot, only 16 would enter the World Cup tournament. Names like Pele, Rivelino and Carlos Alberto will be remembered in World Football (Soccer) lore.
If you are a basketball fan, I still remember the John Wooden UCLA bruins team. They went undefeated 4 times under his watch. Names like Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Sidney Wicks and Henry Bibby will echo throughout the UCLA campus forever.
You may add whatever team or player you feel I missed. Or even a different sports team altogether. It is perfectly fine. The above teams made a huge impression on me as a kid. They are very faint but precious memories.
The same could be said for the people I owe my faith to. I often hear lately, of those people who were drug dealers or gang bangers or just plain nasty; who have turned their lives around and are now preaching the gospel. These make for good stories and I commend them for changing their lives to what really matters. These pastors should be commended for what they have done. But they weren’t undefeated in my book. Sure they can relate to others who have gone through the same life style. Sure they can help point people to Christ and tell of their old life style.
Sometimes, some of these pastors tell their past lives like it was something to be proud of. Like it was a badge of honor to have done the things they did. They may hide it in the holiness of scripture. They may make it sound sugar-coated or rated G for young kids to listen to. Yet, deep within the story they are telling, a small glorifying dark seepage of their past lives comes out.
You see, sometimes as fallen people, even the best of men get tangled up in the web they have built in their minds of what their past was like. Sometimes, some of these pastors look back at their Egypt with starry eyes, thinking that they had their bellies full like the Israelites falsely remembered in Exodus 16.
It is not just some pastors who do this, it is all of us. As Christians, we sometimes look to our past lives before we made a commitment to God and see things as they weren’t. We have to be careful of this. Because the memories we have are not what they seem. Some of us were violent people. Some of us were alcoholics. Some of us were druggies. Some of us were sexually promiscuous. Some of us were lost in our dark thoughts. Some of us were envious. Yet all of us will dig deep inside ourselves and paint a picture of our past lifestyles as something to be remembered with delight.
Why did I start with these undefeated teams? Because these teams are what all sports teams aspire to become. These teams proved to others, that any group of individuals can come together and overcome the impossible.
You see, each person can obtain this perfection spiritually. Not by ourselves, we need God to help us. Jesus said that all things are possible with God, if you have faith (Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23; 10:27; 14:36).
Just like there are undefeated teams, there are also undefeated people to look up to. I was one of those trouble makers. Sure, maybe not as bad as some other Christians before they committed themselves to Christ. Yet, I was hungry for something better in my life. I was drawn not to evil but to wholesomeness. I would not have listened to a pastor or man who was just like me. I did not listen to guys like me. I needed something opposite of me.
What drew me in to a deep faith in Christ a few years after my encounter with goodness was the light that was shone brightly and directly at my darkness.
I will not say the my friends’s name nor will I give details of my past life. Those things don’t matter because I am a new creature who is maturing in Christ everyday (2nd Corinthians 5:17). I don’t look back but forward. The person that pointed me to Christ was not perfect. Neither was his family but they had something contrasting and whole than what my family had. They had something different and pure that I wanted in my life. They showed the love of Christ. I did not know what this was, yet I craved it with every fiber of my being. His family invited this trouble maker to their home. They took a chance with on me. They showed me what a family should act like. They never once pushed me into anything. What they did, they did by example. I saw this at their family dinner. The kids were very respectful. They prayed before their meal and they were joyful. I saw the oldest of the brothers who was carrying a Bible. He never once stopped to ram the Gospel on me. But I was hooked; the minute I saw this family interact, was the minute that I knew I was missing whatever they had.
This was my undefeated Christian family. They have no clue on the impact they had on me when I was in middle school. I will forever be thankful to them. I have not seen this friend or his family since early high school. They don’t know the lasting influence they have had in my life. It took a few years after this joyful time for me to commit myself to Christ and a few more years to understand the decision. Yet, every once in a while, I will look back to my eighth grade year and smile. Because it was the year that the Lord had made for me to begin my friendship with Him. It was the year that I started to rejoice in God’s name. A few years later, that undefeated Christian family’s impact would be felt more vividly when I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. When I asked Jesus to forgive me of all my sinful wrongdoings and when I finally gave Him all my burdens. The joy this family had, was finely mine to give to others.
Why I call this family undefeated? Because they weren’t ex-felons or gang members. They did not sell drugs or weren’t ex-thugs. They were simply an ordinary family with an extraordinary God who used them to get this knucklehead to look towards the heavens and ask himself if there was a better way. This family’s purity pointed me to Christ. Their sweet smelling fellowship cemented my faith. They were living the love that God wants us to live.
They did not need to tell me of their past. They pointed me to their future…