The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were held February 6-23 and were watched by more than two billion people. The World Cup was played in Brazil last June 12-July 13. More than a billion people watched the final between Germany and Argentina; a billion accessed World Cup information through the tournament’s digital platforms. The Cup’s global significance became personal for me when I tried to hail a cab in New York City but most of the drivers were at home watching the competition.
Why are both such massive global events? Countries compete with countries. Other sporting events pit teams or individual athletes against each other, but at the World Cup and Olympics, entire nations feel themselves to be winners or losers based on whether a small number of athletes succeed. And competition drives our culture.
Herbert Hoover believed that “competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.” Andrew Carnegie claimed that “while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.”
Competition may be essential to capitalism and healthy for improving performance, but Franklin Roosevelt was right: “Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” Cooperation creates progress that individuals cannot produce. Cooperation wins wars and achieves peace. It builds cities and industries. It defeats epidemics and counters prejudice. Cooperation seldom generates headlines and Google searches, but it enables the progress of life in our fallen world.
God describes the church as a body with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12-27), a vine with many branches (John 15:1-8). There are no solos in the Book of Revelation. The world will know we are Jesus’ disciples, not by the competitions we win but by the love we exhibit (John 13:34-35). When God’s people work together to speak his truth and share his grace for his glory, we advance his Kingdom in ways none could accomplish alone.
One of the reasons I am so committed to the Movement Day idea is that it brings together the faith community across demographic lines to focus on specific issues we can address together for God’s glory. Whether the problem is literacy, sex trafficking, or hunger, God’s people meet felt needs to meet spiritual needs, earning the right to preach the good news of God’s love. And God is honored.
In 2014, what did you do in service with other believers? That is likely what will remain after the year is done. In 2015, what will you do to advance God’s Kingdom by serving with God’s family?
NOTE: This January, our ministry is participating in Movement Day Greater Dallas. I will be facilitating the leadership track, Catalysts for Culture Change: Four ways to transform the world as a servant leader. You can sign up with advanced registration pricing until January 8.