Playing for Home
October 3, 2023
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. Philippians 3:20 NLT
I’m not the best golfer, but I do love the game. I love to play it and I love to watch it. My wife thinks if you love golf enough to watch it, that’s enough to qualify you as a serious golfer. 😊
This past weekend was the Ryder Cup. It is a biennial men’s golf competition between European and U.S. teams. The competition occurs every two years, one year on a course in the U.S. and the next on a course in Europe.
This year it was held in Rome. The course was filled with fans who were loud and vocal in their support of the European team over the U.S.A. team. Of course, that amped up the play on both sides. The last match-up was in Wisconsin in 2021, and the U.S. won decisively. The competition is still underway as I am writing, with Europe ahead and the U.S. needing to have a comeback to finish.
The Ryder Cup, its alternate-year, non-European counterpart (the Presidents Cup), and its women's equivalent (the Solheim Cup) are exceptions within the world of professional sports because the competing very-skilled professionals receive no prize money, despite the contests being high-profile events that bring in large amounts of money in television, sponsorship, ticketing, and merchandise revenue.
Yet, the golfers fortunate enough to be on the team for the Ryder Cup play with notable pressure and passion, even more, it seems, than they do on their regular tour events where the prize winnings are substantial. They say the pressure for this tournament peaks—it’s the highest. When asked why they play so intensely and passionately in this setting, the players respond with this: “We are not playing just for ourselves. We are representing our home country!” To a person, they take great pride and responsibility in doing so. They want to play to the top of their capacity. They prepare well, play well, and do their absolute best to win the prize.
As I watched the earnest competing of the players, it occurred to me that I, too, am on a team, a team of even more importance than the Ryder Cup team. You and I are on a team of Christ-followers, representing our homeland, our country, in this world. Like the U.S. team while they are in Rome, we are just visitors here; our allegiance is to the place where we belong. That is heaven, the place where we are headed and where our King forever reigns.
When we remember our King and our home, every single day should get our highest commitment, our deepest loyalty, and the best effort we can give. The pressure we gladly put on ourselves to represent our King and country well drives us and motivates us to live not only intentionally, but passionately.
And of course, there is way more in the balance of who wins than a cup—it’s life and eternity for us and the ones we influence.
Let’s play to win.