Recently I was driving to work and listening to ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, and they were discussing recent comments from Ray Lewis about winning the Super Bowl and what he felt. His response was, “Love is why we are here. We’re a family, man. And that’s what it’s really all about: When you see people win championships, they do it based off love.” Lewis expanded his comments to say that when you fight for the goal of a championship and winning together, you become a family that loves each other. Mike Golic, of ESPN’s Mike and Mike, expanded on this story saying that what a lot of players miss most when they retire is the camaraderie and brotherhood that comes from the locker room.
As I was driving in to work, these comments made me think of similar thoughts I had heard from Matt Carter at the Acts 29 Boot Camp I attended in 2010. Matt was discussing their community groups and was comparing it to Band of Brothers. He noticed when he listened to the real veterans from Easy Company discussing their fellow soldiers in Easy; they said that they were closer to these men than they were to their own kids or even their wives. Carter pondered what that meant for the idea of community and how we approach Christian community and fellowship as believers.
What he came to understand is that Easy Company felt a closeness they didn’t feel with others because they were fighting for something greater than them and this bonded them closely to each other. They saw some of their brothers-in-arms die, some crack under the pressure, and others do things that they could not have done if they were simply looking to survive. The mission and the gravity of their charge glued them all together and forged bonds and memories that were stronger and longer-lasting than some of their families.
Carter compared this to the mission of the church and how it forms community. Their church, Austin Stone Community Church, found when they were shooting for community; they got neither mission nor community. However, when they set a mission, like Easy Company, and banded together to be on Jesus’ mission for the church, they got both mission AND community. Their conclusion found that it was no accident that Jesus’ commissioned the disciples and sent them out to make disciples, baptizing them into the church (Matthew 28). God knows that a healthy church, a united church, is one that is united together under the rule of Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit to accomplish the Father’s purpose to take the good news to every tribe, tongue and nation (Acts 2; Philippians 2; Revelation 7).
Ray Lewis’ comment is even more poignant, as it illustrates how a group of men, who hardly can count on knowing who they are playing with in a given year, spend almost every day with one another for 9 to 10 months , and band together to achieve the pinnacle of sports achievement. Lewis calls it “family” and that they have a unique love for one another. They are given a mission to achieve and set forth as a family on mission to win the Super Bowl.
What a great example of the church! God saves us and throws a bunch of people together who would not normally find themselves together. We become a part of God’s team (Family) with God as our Owner and Jesus as our GM. The Spirit is our coach and quarterback, directing us to remember the words of Jesus and telling where to go and how to serve (Mission). As a result, we strive together as team and also grow together as a team to be more effective on his mission (Community).
To slightly alter Lewis’ words, he might say, “They will know we are champions by our love.” When we are a Family on Mission, our mutual love for the Father and His gospel will give us a deep affection for one another, and the world will know that we are Christians by our love.