I used to be really competitive and driven to win, especially playing king of the hill on a mountain of compact snow in Ketchikan in fifth grade. It was the kind of ice mountain that would likely be banned today, the very sight of it terrifying helicopter moms and city council members alike. I usually won, too. Once I did not, once a bunch of boys, there must have been like 80 of them, managed to throw me down and knock me out cold. I woke up laughing because they were all looking down, talking about how they had killed me. I was the smart one, so it was complete panic, like, if only she would wake up and help us figure out how to hide the body….
I can argue and debate very well too, and usually I am right. You can ask my hubby, he’s another competitive one who has to win and he really won’t argue with me at all. It’s a total forfeit, he knows he can’t win. I’m chuckling here, but it works out very well for us. He pretty much wins all of our non arguments by totally confusing me. He’ll say something ridiculous like, “This is a bad idea and won’t end well, are you in?” Why yes, who can resist an honest offer like that?
The other day he actually said, “How mad would you be if I completely forgot about how mad you would be and just did it anyway because if you were mad about it you shouldn’t have been anyway, so it really didn’t matter that you were mad, and I just did what I was going to do anyway, because you should just be really happy about it.”
Wut is that?! I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster not of my own doing and I don’t even have the grammar skills to try to fix that kind of a run on sentence.
I wasn’t mad. I just heard the part about, “be really happy about it” and surrendered all. Sounds good to me. You win.
I didn’t go to school very much, fifth, seventh, and eleventh. In eleventh grade, in a matter of minutes I really lost my desire to win, lost my desire to annihilate the enemy, and it was suddenly replaced with something else, with my heavenly Father’s heart for us. It was profound, supernatural, completely out of character. I suddenly just wanted others to win.
There was this guy, not cute, not smart, not even right about anything, and we were having a debate about something dumb, contemporary world problems, and the Lord just whispered, help him to win. I did my best too, and it wasn’t so easy. He didn’t help at all. I made his point for him, handed him several more arguments, smiled, tried to encourage him. I don’t even remember the discussion, I just remember this very alien and new thing in me that seemed to really want, other people to win.
I tell this tale because that alien thing has never left me. I can still be argumentative and snappish, and some things are really important, somethings I am right about because I am right, and they need to be stood up for. For the most part however, that is still my heart, I want you to win. I want you to succeed, to shine, to thrive, I want you to be right. To be right, and to be in right relationship with the Lord.
I mention it because the culture is not like that. The internet is not like that. Most jobs are not like that. Many Christians are not like that. Twitter is certainly not like that. One reason why we have so many divisions in this country is because people are still playing a game of, “I’m right” as if possessing the truth were just like being king of the hill. Also, there can only be one king on the hill, which is quite true, but none of us are Him.
I have our heavenly Father’s heart for us because He is a God of all restoration and healing. Jesus gave His life to restore us into right relationship with Him. We are supposed to “be right.” We are supposed “to win.” We are supposed to succeed and have victory. The battle has already been fought and the victory is now ours, if we will receive it.
Our faith is actually not a debate or an ideology or a world view. It is not politics, culture, or a chosen belief system. It is not about winning arguments or annihilating others. There is nothing at all wrong with conflict, tension, critical thinking, a frolicking good pillow fight or softball game. Debate can be really healthy and edifying, but what I speak of is more like the old Matilda movie, “I’m right, you’re wrong, I win.” The Lord flat out tells me, “if they don’t win, you don’t win.” There is, gasp, collectivism going on within the body of Christ. No going, I got mine, good luck with yours.
If there are people in our world who are not winning, it is our problem, it is our job to extend our hand and to help them to win.
Internet atheists (and oddly addicts, too) sometimes complain, why are you so argumentative, uptight, intolerant, and unwilling to just accept that there are different lifestyles and belief systems in the world? Because I want you to win. Because I want you to have access to Jesus Christ, to life and life abundant. Because I have the eyes to see what the world looks like without Him and it is not winning, it is not victory, it is a dark world of endless suffering, grief, despair, and death.
I want you to win because Jesus Christ said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Many of us are conformed to the world, myself too, more than we are conformed to the gospel, so we are imperfect vehicles for sharing the good news, for spreading the word. One of the few things atheists are right about, many Christians don’t always act like what we profess to believe in. But “what we believe in” is not nearly as important as Who we believe in. It is in Him where hope lives, and He wants you to win, He wants you to be right, so much so that He is willing to loan you His victory.
That is our Father’s heart for us and that is what “winning” and “being right” is all about. It is about being restored to Him, about coming home, about taking your rightful place as the heir to a kingdom.