“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16
Let’s all line up for a race. We’re going to sprint to a designated spot and back. The winner gets a prize (e.g. a quarter, a piece of candy, a pen, etc.).
- Besides winning a prize, what are some other motivations for you to compete?
- What does not give you the motivation to compete?
You’re seeing glimpses of what you can be as an athlete and it’s exciting to experience competitive growth. But is it just about winning? If so, that feeling of excitement might not last for long. The great news is that God created you for something more!
No matter the competitive situation, it always seems like something is on the line—the game, starting positions, scholarships, reputations, locker room status, bragging rights, etc. But Oklahoma softball coach Patti Gasso has become known for encouraging her athletes to celebrate the greater promise they have through their identity in Christ.
The team’s rallying cry throughout its 2021 NCAA championship run was “BATL” or “Boast About The Lord.” It was focusing on God that allowed them to play without fearing a negative result. They saw beyond the short-term promise of competitive success and instead saw the bigger picture of why they were competing in the first place.
- When was a time that you competed with something on the line?
- How did you feel when you had that pressure on you?
As Jesus began His ministry, many religious leaders were nervous about his arrival. Most of them didn’t like the idea that someone else was greater than them. Except for a few.
Nicodemus’ identity was wrapped up in his job and his status. Nicodemus felt the pressure to perform, but what he really needed was the Truth. Until that point, Nicodemus knew all about God but didn’t truly know Him. Focusing on the rules of his religion prevented him from having a relationship. But Jesus showed Nicodemus the light of Truth and revealed a greater promise of eternal life.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.” —John 3:16–18
“This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” — John 3:19–21
That night, Nicodemus stepped into the light of God’s promise. After meeting Jesus, he was no longer wrapped up in what he could do, but instead was compelled to see what God could do through him and for God’s glory.
- Why do you think Nicodemus could know so much about God and yet not truly know Him?
- What are some accomplishments that you need to shine a light on for God’s glory?
(Choose an athlete to read the scriptures below.)
More than anything you can find through athletic success; God wants to give you the greater promise that comes from Jesus. Here are three amazing things that His greater promise will bring:
- Greater Love. God’s promise is only possible because of His great love for you— even to the point of sacrificing His own Son. —John 15:9
- Greater Gift. Salvation is the key to a relationship with God and the promise of eternal life. — John 3:17
- Greater Identity. There is no more confusion about who you are and your self-worth when you join God’s family. — John 1:12
Pray this prayer with your athletes:
“Dear Lord, thank You for the greater promise of salvation. Help me to receive Your love so that I might begin to find my identity in You.”