I never really liked playing the game of Life.
That little board game that has the plastic cars with these little, itsy-bitsy tiny pieces that you can lose in like 2 seconds just by breathing on them.
The board game I like better is sorry, mostly because you get to try to take your pieces around the board and get them home but you get to bump the other players out of the way and send them to start while you’re doing it.
Either way I love board games and I love playing games with my family.
Maybe you are a board and card game person like me or if not, I’m sure you’ve gotten your arm twisted into playing some games along the way. But sometimes when your playing with a group of people it seems like one of the players is playing a completely different game than the rest of you. Sometimes that person is like 6 and they are playing a different game that involves flicking the game pieces across the table or their 10 and the goal is to make as much noise as you can! But sometimes someone just doesn’t want to bump someone else when they should or decides their goal is to see how many times they can go around the board without going home… It’s the same pieces and the same board but it’s like you’re playing two very different games.
A lot of times people will call life itself a game that you have to play. A game with winners and losers, little pieces you try collect while going around the board, some people are playing monopoly and some are playing sorry but they are all just trying to win the game. If you’re playing the game of life, winning means getting all of your pieces to home, collecting the most properties, having the most money, being better than the other players. If you have the most plastic pieces you win or if you reach your home base you win. People can get really rough when they play the game of life, they’ll fight, get upset, cheat, whatever they can to win the game. If you’re not winning the game of life are you a loser?
But sometimes you run into people who just don’t seem to get the rules of the game. Instead of playing like their trying to beat everyone else at the board game they actually help other people be successful or they give up their place in line or they spend their time caring for others. It’s bizarre and we have titles for people like this, title like saints or do-gooders, altruism and mercy seem to be really important to them and somehow it seems like they are playing a completely different game than everyone else and often they are called weirdos and loser because of it.
Jesus was a weirdo and a loser.
Jesus didn’t play by the rules of the game that everyone else was playing by. Reading the stories of Jesus by the disciples sometimes they are very strange and not in the miracle strange kind of way. If the disciples who wrote the gospels telling the stories of Jesus’ ministry and life were making this stuff up, i’m sure it would have looked a lot more like the greek mythologies of hercules, winner in the game of life, demigod, super strong, always got the girl, always beat the monster, the kind of person that always won the game. No, what the disciples share with us about the life and ministry of Jesus was that he was not out to win the game of life and get all of the pieces, even when the crowds cheered him to do so.
No, instead he played by a very different set of rules. He spent all of his time with those who were not the winners in the game but the losers, those that were in last place and lost their shirt. He spent his time being merciful to those who were broken by the game of life and instead of trying to suck up and become like the winners, he had very hard words and called them to repent. Jesus died a loser, none of his piece made it from start to home, by every sense of the word Jesus lost the game of life but he was never trying to win that game. Even though Jesus had the same game pieces and game board as everyone else Jesus was playing by a very different set of rules and a very different game.
Because it was at the very points were it was painfully obvious that Jesus had lost the game of life that he had actually won, not the game of life but the eternal, not game but struggle for us against all of the powers of darkness, death and sin fighting against Him. The cross, instead of the sign of defeat became a symbol of victory. The grave where everyone goes, because everyone eventually loses the game of life, because of Jesus became a place of hope and victory. Jesus was not playing by the rules because Jesus did not care about winning he cared about redeeming and saving you and me. So when Jesus played the game of life he changed the rules for all of those who are playing the game of life and are saved because of Jesus.
That is you and me. Christians. We all have the same game pieces, the same board, the same expectations to win this game of life but because of Jesus we have a very different set of rules that we get to play by, the same set of rules that Jesus lived by and now gives to us, to be weirdos and even losers in this game of life. Here are the rules.
Rule #1- In Jesus, You Have Already Won.
I love game night at my house. The family all gets together around the kitchen table and we battle it out. Sometimes you kick butt and win, sometimes you come in second and sometimes you get your butt kicked and you don’t even make it out of start. I can tell you that has happened to me often recently as I’ve begun to realize just how good my kids are at playing these games! But, while we are focused on that game board with those plastic pieces and cards, fighting it out, it doesn’t really matter if I win or lose on that game board because there is a much bigger game that I want to win happening somewhere else. Looking up from that game board and around the table, their is my family, all together, having fun together. That is the game that matters, the people I love, together and being together. It doesn’t matter what happens on the board, of I win or lose on the board, of if I get completely creamed on the game board, none of that matters because I’ve already won the game that matters, with my family at the table together.
It’s really easy to get hyper-focused on the game of life, with all of the moving plastic pieces, game boards, money and everything we are trying to accomplish in life, trying to win the game. But look from the board for a minute and look at the greater reality at the kitchen table. All of this is for us to be with God and to know God and receive His love. Teh board game isn’t the point, receiving God’s love who gave us all things is the point.
In Jesus, you have already won. You already are loved by God and know God and love God back.
In Jesus, you have already won and that matters because we don’t always win the game of life, many times we lose, very badly. Life does not work out well and the endings often seems unfair. Ultimately, everyone, no matter who, loses the game of life when they die. But what ultimately happens during the game and how it ends does not determine if you have won or lost, knowing Jesus determines that. No matter what happens on the game board, in Jesus, you have already won.
Rule #2- Play Accordingly
If you’ve already won the game you’re going to play the game very differently. This isn’t the cocky “I’ve already won in my head” kind of attitude that goes into the game like it’s better than everyone else. No, this is a perspective change. If the point of the game of life you are playing is not to get your piece around the board, get all the little plastic houses or collect all of the monopoly cash, it changes your perspective, all of those things just don’t seem as important anymore. Sure, we keep playing and moving around the board, but we don’t have to win at all costs. Instead we get a different perspective about these little plastic pieces, like they are not here just for me to win but for something maybe a little more important.
Rule #3- Play To Help Everyone Else Win
When I am sitting down playing games with my family, knowing I’ve already won, the point of the board game for me, no longer is always just winning the board game. Sure, I give it a good try but what matters a lot more to me are things like: is my family having fun, are my kids learning good things like how to play fair and how to be a good winner and loser. That is the game I’m really trying to win, raising my family well, the board game is a vehicle and tool to help accomplish that goal.
The game of life is no different. All these pieces and parts, monopoly money and plastic houses aren’t meant for us to simply get around the board and collect as many as possible. Instead, they exist to serve the greater purpose, to be used to teach and show the people we love that in Jesus they have already won the game too-whatever happens on the board.
Rule #4 Remember What Game You Are Playing
It’s easy to forget as Christians which game we are actually playing. We can get so caught up in the plastic pieces and trying to get around the board that we don’t always look up from the board and realize that the real “game” is right there, with Jesus next to us, the people we love around us and God’s Church supporting and encouraging you along the way. Pick you’re head up from the board, be in worship and receive the greater picture of what’s happening around the kitchen table with Jesus right beside you all of the way.