By Pastor Paula Burchill
I was watching the national championship football game with my sons last night. I am not really a college football fan at all. The best team at my college was the choir. But the game was good and it was fun to watch with my family.
Alabama ended up beating Georgia in overtime and what stood out was the fact that at halftime, the Alabama coach benched his very good quarterback and put in a “true” freshman, who is better at passing. And the guy threw a great pass to win the game. He will probably be remembered forever.
To bench someone like that and on that stage, is apparently very unusual, but what is even more so, is that all through the game, the benched quarterback Jalen Hurts, seemed so supportive of his team and his teammate. He was shown cheering and joining the new quarterback on the bench to discuss plays. He didn’t look sullen at all. After the game, he was interviewed, and he could not have been more gracious.
I love sports radio, and this is all they have been talking about. The guys can’t believe that 19 year old Jalen could be so gracious in defeat. They talked about times in their lives when they were replaced by a better co-worker and how they didn’t like it one bit. Broadcaster Mike Salk said after watching Hurts, he has become a fan for life. Another broadcaster said it is a credit to the Alabama coach for creating an atmosphere where it is team first.
In the book of John, chapters 14-17, Jesus spends a LONG time talking to his disciples before he dies. I’m not gonna lie, Jesus gets really wordy. But when I started reading those chapters as a dying man, pleading with his friends, I grew to love them.
One of the things Jesus tells his disciples is that the way the world will know you’re my disciples is by your love for each other. And I got to thinking what a great example of this Jalen Hurts is.
Here is a guy who was SEC Offensive Player of the Year last year, getting benched in a game watched by millions. He could have kicked a Gatorade cooler. He could have sat with his head under a towel. But instead, he put his team first, and cheered and encouraged and stayed in the game. I don’t like Alabama at all, but Jalen Hurts made me a fan of their team first attitude. He made me want to know more about them.
When Jesus tells us to love each other, I am often confronted with how often I don’t love others like I should. I don’t think I could have acted like Jalen. I would have probably been sulking in jealousy. But do you know when I think I am able to share love? It’s when I realize that not everything is about me. It is awesome to be around others who have gifts that they share or strengths I don’t have, especially when I remember we are all on the same team.
I wonder if that is what Jesus wants us to remember. He told us we are all his body after all. Isn’t saying we are all on the same team a similar metaphor?
It is so easy to let seeing someone else succeed make you focus on all the ways you fail. So I try to remind myself that everyone has something that is hard in their life. And my job on Jesus’ team, is to show love. However I can manage. And what a joyful job Jesus gave us! It is so much easier in the end to love than to be jealous or to keep score or to sulk. You just feel lighter.
That is how the world will know we are on Jesus’ team—by our love. And Jesus wants everyone on his team! Thanks, Jalen, for being such a gracious, humble and outstanding teammate.