I’ve always been a huge sports fan, and lately, I have been watching the documentary produced by Netflix about Michael Jordan. “The Last Dance” connects storylines spanning from Jordan’s childhood, to his championships and retirement. It’s been very interesting for me as I remember, quite well, cheering on the Bulls as a kid.
One of the things that keeps coming to light in the documentary, is Jordan’s insatiable drive to be the best. He wasn’t just content on winning, he wanted to humiliate his opponents. So much so, that he would create perceived slights in his own head as motivation to destroy the competition. His number one priority was being the best - winning at all costs.
It’s not a secret though, that Jordan’s pursuit of greatness did come at a cost. He wasn’t a nice guy. When asked of his teammates, one said, “Mike couldn’t be a nice guy.” In the pursuit of greatness, Jordan sacrificed his relationships and reputation. The commercials I remember telling me to, “be like Mike,” were apparently marketing strategy at best - something that even Jordan himself acknowledged. But the fact remains - Jordan’s singular focus of being the best basketball player ever had impact - both positive, and negative; momentary and lasting.
Now, of course I’m not Jordan, so I ask myself, “What do I pursue?” “What is it in my life that I am willing to sacrifice everything I have (and am) in the pursuit of?” For me, that truth lies in Scripture and is echoed in the words of Paul: (quoting the Message Paraphrase here, due to its very down to earth language)
“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” (Philippians 3:7-11 The Message Paraphrase).
What am I called to pursue above all else? God’s Righteousness.
What really matters in life is how we understand and pursue our relationship with Christ. Anything else can be counted as loss. Christians, are we pursuing our relationship with Christ with the same tenacity and unrelenting resolve as Jordan pursued basketball? What if we dedicated our very being, every waking moment to pursuing righteousness through relationship with Jesus Christ and to serving Him daily? What would our lives look like then?
I have a very good friend who once told me that, “nothing is made worse because there is more of Jesus in it.” He is right, and I’ve proved it over and over in my own life - enough times that I have learned to continually seek more and more of Jesus.
I pray that in these days of uncertainty, uneasiness and distraction, that we would be in constant pursuit of Christ. This prayer echoes the words of a wonderful worship song by Graham Kendrick. And so are we willing to dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of righteousness - not for personal recognition or for championships or for accolade or awards - but simply because knowing Jesus is the greatest gift of all.
All I once held dear, built my life upon All this world reveres, and wars to own All I once thought gain I have counted loss Spent and worthless now, compared to this
Knowing you, Jesus Knowing you, there is no greater thing You're my all, you're the best You're my joy, my righteousness And I love you, Lord.