From the Pastor’s Desk – Alex Poon, Pastor of English Youth and Young Adult Ministries
I always enjoy talking about the great game of Basketball with Pastor Simon. It’s one of our common interests… outside of church ministries of course. I’m always impressed with how much he knows; about the players, about the storylines of each season, about general history. It’s not that I claim to know a lot either, I just appreciate that we’re mutual fans of the game.
Not too long ago, we were talking about the L.A. Lakers, about their recent win against the Miami Heat in the 2019-2020 NBA Finals Games. Specifically, we were talking about the Miami Heat’s win in Game 5 on October 9th. Immediately, some of you who’ve also kept up with the best of 7 series know exactly the moment I’m referencing now. In the final 11.7 seconds of Game 5, one of the greatest players of our generation, Lebron James of the L.A. Lakers – while dealing with a double team – entrusted the potentially game winning shot to his teammate, shooting guard Danny Green. A moment of mistake or celebration, depending on which team you were cheering for.
From the top of the 3-point key of the basketball court, Danny Green’s three pointer shot fell short of the basketball hoop, bouncing off the rim and ruining any chance for a Game 5 trophy celebration for the L.A. Lakers. The Lakers were one win, one basket, one play, away from being champions of the entire hard-fought season. But Danny Green was forced to make a rushed shot. A rushed shot from where he stood, because he didn’t see what we saw – that he had time.
If you were watching the game at home, your reaction might have been like mine. Watching that ball bounce off the rim, you might have given a big groan. Your hands may have been lifted high in excitement, realizing that on this night a basketball championship could have been won… only to have your hands drop down again in dreary shock. Or… you unlike me, could have been cheering for the underdog Miami Heat team, and at that point you had just gained breath back in your lungs as a sigh of relief that your team had just forced a game 6.
Well, whether you’re familiar with this recent sports moment or not, whether you’re familiar with the sport of Basketball or not, here’s the life point I’m trying to make. Sitting on this side of the camera, as the comfortable sports fan just watching the televised game, we were given a viewing vantage point that differed from all players on the court. Removed from the situation, from our side of the camera, we were given the bigger picture. We could tell what was really happening. In any sports game, we’re able to see the amount of time the player has to make a shot, just how far a player has to stretch their hands to catch a ball, just how much faster they have to run to win the race. We’re given a vantage point that lets us see what’s really happening. Unlike the player on the court who is in the thick of the situation, we see the bigger picture.
The good news of the gospel is like this when it comes to life.
The gospel gives us a lens to see the world through. And this lens gives us the chance to see the bigger picture of life. You see, when we’re caught up in the thick of the situations in this often-difficult life, we don’t see the reason for what is happening. As the ones in the midst of the dire situation, we just feel the weight of the pressures being built up. We experience the intensity of the hardships caving in, and we at times, succumb to the pressure.
The hope of the gospel is that it gives us clarity.
The gospel is defined by Theologian Tim Keller like this, and I’ll paraphrase, “we are more broken and weaker than we ever dared imagine, but we are more accepted and loved by Jesus Christ our Saviour than we ever dared hope.”
When we’re able to see all of life’s experiences through this lens – this vantage point – we’re able to see that no matter what we go through today or tomorrow, we’re being taken care of by our gracious Saviour.
The gospel tells us that in the midst of our suffering, the love of the Father gave up his own Son so that we would know all hardships, calamities, weaknesses and persecutions we endure are present for a purpose. Nothing is by accident, and nothing is because of ruthless punishment. We are blemished sinners forgiven by grace because of the blood of Christ shed on the cross washes us clean. When we endure in the hard times, we lean into God for strength to persevere, and we’re brought to a message of hope that reminds us that in all of those difficult circumstances we are being drawn into the caring arms of the Father. This is love, this is grace. That as one author put it, “when we are brought to our knees, we are brought to dependence on him.”
Difficult circumstances force us to ponder deeply on our relationship with God in times where we’ve fallen. And there, when we wrestle with our situations, God meets us with the comfort of his loving arms that lift us up. We are given strength by his Spirit. Strength to endure, strength that eventually chisels and builds our character to be more like Christ.
The lens of the gospel gives us this perspective to viewing our hardships.
And the lens of the gospel gives us an even deeper reason to celebrate too when all goes according to harmonious plan.
When the events of our life bring us to deep happiness and harmony, when our eyes are turned to seeing the beauty of our blessings, again, the lens of the Gospel gives us a bigger picture of life.
It reminds us God loved so deeply he gave of his only Son, and that all of the blessings to follow are gifted by the same compassionate, loving, and generous Father. We’re cared for. We’re given worth, dignity and value as those created in his image. We’re invited into adoption, when a good God graciously reveals his grace to his fallen creation. And this gospel news is truly the source of all our thanksgiving. We’re saved to be loved by a holy God.
The good news of the gospel gives us a lens to see the bigger picture of life. And so, my RCAC brothers and sisters in Christ, may you continue to seek out the depths of the gospel meaning. May you experience the sacrificial love of Christ, so that your praise and adoration of our Father God would exponentially grow, for his glory, for our sake.
Pastor of English Ministry’s Youth and Young Adults