Don’t You Feel Sorry for Serena Williams?
“I don’t love tennis today but I’m here,” she said after beating Chanelle Scheepers, 6-2, 6-3, in the first round of the Brisbane International. “I can’t live without it — there’s a difference between not loving something and not being able to live without it. I have never liked sports and could never understand how I became an athlete.”
So what motivates her? Apparently it is winning that keeps her coming back for more. When she is (reluctantly?) practicing it is the thought of winning that makes her do it. You can read the rest of this article here for yourself but the author detected the real point of these remarks by Serena, “Just think what I could do if I really tried!”
There’s no doubt she’s a great player but you have to wonder what’s behind her making these remarks to the press. It could be posturing to demoralize her opponents. It could be runaway pride. It could be self-talk to bolster her esteem, or it may be that she is bored with winning and is starting to move her focus to other things. It would take more than this interview to discern what is really going on in her head.
Her statement bears uncanny resemblance to the attitude of many Christians. We like the winning piece but we are reluctant to do the work it takes to make something out of life. We want the excitement of big events and miracles in our lives but we don’t have much interest in building the foundation and training ourselves to get there. We limit ourselves to the extent of our natural abilities and resources with little thought to personal development and growth; no effort is wasted on training ourselves and instead we just cruise through life, living for the big moments and boasting about stuff we’ve never done.
We see it in churches where people are interested in coming to big entertainment style services but reluctant to show up to be part of the real life of the church. In case you are wondering, the big entertainment service isn’t where you find the life of any church – not even when the entertainment is great. The life of any church exists in its relationships and the power of each church lies in the transformation that comes from growing in relationship with Jesus and with those who follow him. People who focus on the “concert” miss the life and soon drift on to other pursuits. To them, a church is only as good as its last concert. There are other concerts in town and folks gravitate towards the concert they like best (for now.) Looking ahead it is safe to predict that unless something changes in their attitude, they will give up on attending church as their interest in the concerts wanes and other things take their attention. They will become inoculated against “church” as they understand it but they will have missed the power of transformation and life. “Tried that but it didn’t work for me!”
This isn’t anything new. Folks did the same thing when Jesus was living here. The crowds gathered in the hopes of seeing big time spectacles but they got bored and eventually turned against him – he wasn’t entertaining them anymore!
The disciples who built relationships with him and with each other also struggled when he didn’t do what they expected him to do but the strength of their relationships carried them through to a brilliant new phase. They became winners in ways they never expected and it was the result of the time they spent in building relationship with Jesus and each other. That relationship building began when they responded by following Jesus but it continued throughout the rest of their lives. That’s where the hard work of training was and that is what carried them into the future. No one has been able to demonstrate the superior alternative yet and don’t be holding your breath waiting for it to be found. There are no short-cuts on this one. If you are hoping to experience the real power of the gospel you’ll only find it in a church which trains its members to establish and build great relationships first with Jesus and then with each other. If your church isn’t like that you face the choice of helping it to become relationally effective or moving to a different church that “gets it.”
This isn’t a size issue – big churches can be powerfully relational and they can also be trite and shallow. So can small churches. It’s not a function of size but of emphasis. And of course it isn’t something that just happens – we each take responsibility for what we do with the opportunities we have before us. If we won’t put in the time and effort to build great relationships then we can’t expect to discover the power of God at work in us.
No doubt Serena would like us to think she is capable of so much more but without the hard work of training it isn’t going to happen. It’s an idle boast. She’s a great player but the real puzzle is to figure if she is playing to her potential.
The church is capable of so much more but without the hard work of training it isn’t going to happen. It’s a cruel hoax. We know that the church experience can be so much more – the potential exceeds anything we’ve seen yet
Now here’s the best part: The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth (he’s looking hard to find and) to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9. Apparently God is anxiously waiting and looking for people who want to get on the relationship trail with him and he’s committed to making it happen. He’s actively looking for people who get it and he’s ready to encourage them. We don’t need to idly boast about what we can become when we can simply get on the trail of proving it.
Just think what we can do if we really try!
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Posted on January 5, 2012, in Active faith and tagged Christianity, Christianity and faith, church, discipleship, interpersonal relationships, Jesus, relationship with God, Serena Williams, training. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off.