I’m one of the most competitive people you will ever find and I don’t say that to brag because I’m not sure it is a good thing. I wasn’t a win at all costs kind of guy as in if I would cheat to beat you. But if I could beat you at any game I would. If I played I played to win. Belinda would chide me when I played checkers or Candyland with the kids because I would always win. She would say, Can’t you let them win sometimes? I would respond, No one is going to let them win in life. If they want to win they are going to have to go after it.
Over time I’ve come to see that competition is good in many areas for example it may keep costs down, at least that is what capitalism teaches in theory. Competition can make a team better because players have to bring their A game. I think it can keep us sharp because winning isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there are many problems with competition too. It can become a temptation to pride. It can sour relationships. It can obscure greater goals and cause us to lose focus of what is truly most important at the moment. I could go on.
There is a story in the Bible, Matthew 25, about ten virgins who took oil with them to wait for the bridegroom to come. The tradition was that if you were there waiting with your lamp lighted you could go into the party.
The bridegroom came later than expected and five of the virgins brought extra oil. Five of the virgins didn’t have extra oil so they had to leave to retrieve more. They made a quick trip to 7/11 and while they were en route the bridegroom came. As a result they missed the party.
Jesus seized the opportunity to talk about being ready. We have to be ready and stay ready even if Jesus, the Bridegroom, delays His coming. In other words, we don’t know when Jesus will return so we should live like it could happen today but be prepared if He delays and we live a long full life and die a natural death.
I won’t argue with the point Jesus made. That would be foolish. But I do wonder why did they have to compete? I bet if they would have pooled their oil they could have all enjoyed the party together. Would it have put them all at risk? Probably, but wouldn’t the party be more fun with all ten friends? You might be thinking I don’t understand women, that wouldn’t have ever happened. You might be right.
But what if the virgins represented the church? I think too often the way we go about church is in a competitive manner. Instead of sharing we act like we are afraid we won’t have enough if we share so we are willing to let others miss out. When we first planted Indian Creek there were other churches in town who wouldn’t let us use their facilities even if we offered to pay because we were the competition. I vowed if we, Indian Creek Community Church, could help others we would and we’ve tried to live up to that.
Let’s let this scripture remind us to be ready but let’s let it also stand as a sad commentary on how in sharing everyone wins. In competition only one (or a limited few) can win. I’m repenting of my competitive nature–when it comes to the Church!