Practically every functional television set in the United States will be tuned to Super Bowl XLVI this Sunday. More than 100 million people will see at least a portion of the game. Which explains why the commercial spots cost so much. Everyone loves the big game, often to the exclusion of all else. Many people will watch today’s Super Bowl who paid no attention to the regular NFL season. The same is true of the World Series in baseball, March Madness and the NBA Finals in basketball, Wimbledon and the US Open in tennis, or the Masters in golf. Some people wait for the big events to show interest. It’s as though all of the other games don’t matter.
Some Christians bring this “big game” orientation to the practice of their faith. Baptism is a major happening in one’s life — rightly so — but we cannot afford to let our zeal wane after that event is concluded. Similarly, it is counterproductive to be enthusiastic about evangelism only when a gospel meeting rolls around, and neglect all of the other outreach opportunities that present themselves daily. Even focusing our energies toward our worship on the first day of each week should not supersede our living each day fully for the Lord.
That’s not to say there aren’t times in our lives when we need to, in the words of a famous chef, “kick it up a notch.” Circumstances dictate that some situations require greater effort or attention — that’s a given. But what we can’t afford to do is live so completely for life’s “big events” that we fail to live the rest of the time.
To revert to our sports analogy for a moment, a team that applies all its energies to the Super Bowl or the World Series or the Final Four will never play in those events. Getting to the big game means emerging victorious in the many games that precede the main event. If you don’t win a lot of the little games, you’ll miss your chance to compete in the big one.
Paul had the right idea: “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). Every day was a day in which Paul needed to die to self and to the world’s attractions, and live for Christ. Every day presented opportunities for Paul to “discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
That concept originated in Jesus Himself: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Note that word “daily” — it’s not there by accident. Living for Jesus is truly a day-to-day, every day commitment.
Early disciples seem to have understood this better than we do: “Daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42). Even so, they too needed to be reminded to “exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
If you’re waiting for the main event before you get into the game, your wait is over. The big game is today — and every day. Play hard (1 Corinthians 9:24)!