John D. Rockefeller once said that competition is a sin. His position is understandable considering how anti-trust legislation and laws against monopolies dismantled his businesses. Unfortunately, some Christians take this view toward their own lives. Some think that competition and its use in the ministry push the bounds of “good Christian morality.” After all, Christians are meek and passive.
A Christian is not submissive. She is enthusiastic and fights for every inch of good ground she can get. It is this way because to not do so would be to squander the gifts God has given her. She uses her opportunities, talents, and attributes to win the race and secure her prize (1 Cor 9:24).
In reading the gospels, one has to come away thinking that Jesus is a man who knows what he wants and goes after it. He has a plan and doesn’t stop until it is accomplished. He perseveres against the challenges of men and spirits (His temptation by Satan in the wilderness comes to mind). Even His death on the cross is part of His mission – some would say it is THE mission. He gives up His life willingly, all the while fighting against challenges that tempt and torture.
Ideally, competition like life would be used for the one real purpose: the glory of God. If winning becomes an idol, something more important than loving God or your neighbor, refocus (hopefully on the one who gives clarity). I play basketball with a group of guys on Sundays. And although we have experienced everything from rolled ankles to black eyes, I truly believe the bond we form competing with and against one another glorifies the spirit who dwells within us.
Calling competition a sin or looking at it as something other than another tool for ministry neglects a huge segment of the population. Men, I think, are especially competitive. I once gave a friend a rug burn on his face while playing football on our knees in his living room. If that doesn’t prove the point, then consider that we disagree to this day about whether or not he scored on the play – he didn’t.
The early Church competed for the right to worship the one true God. Today God is in competition for hearts and minds around the world (though this is an area where one would be wise to eliminate the competition – give ‘em concrete shoes, fuhgeddabodit!). So why not use what we’ve been given to increase His flock, so that all may one day hear, “Well done. You have finished the race I set you to run. I am your prize.”
In His name