Extra innings, complete games, walk-off hits, beanballs, and human pile-ups between the pitcher’s mound and home plate—yep, it must be playoff baseball time. Teams are fighting for their seasons, and the number of survivors is dwindling. It took 162 regular season games to earn a spot in the playoffs, and now teams are never more than four games away from elimination. And in the end there will be a single winner and 29 teams left empty-handed and disappointed.
This is why competition is so gripping—something is at stake, great gains and great losses rest in the balance. It creates much tension and drama and makes for great entertainment as the narrative plays out. To watch a hard-fought seven-game series in October is to be carried through a dynamic tale. In the end there is a winner and a loser, happy and sad, fulfilled, and hollow.
As gripping as these series are, it reminds me how thankful I am that all of life is not a playoff series. Yes, aspects of life have winners and losers, and in much of what we do the stakes are high and the competition keen. And we should always strive for excellence and endeavor to be the best at whatever we do. But the aspects of life that matter most function on an entirely different value system.
Imagine if we, as God’s children, faced a do-or-die task to matter in His eyes, succeed or else. That would be no relationship. The pressure would paralyze us. Imagine if only those of us who “win” at the game of life could be saved. Instead of the drama of a great story it would be an after-action report of casualties—and we would all be casualties.
Our worth as humans is not determined by defeating others often enough to be deemed a “winner.” No matter what our culture says, our worth is inherent as people created in the image of God. It would be exhausting, depressing, and soul-crushing to have to compete with others to be on God’s “winning” team. Thankfully, God didn’t create life to be a playoff system, a survival of the fittest, in which only the winners are fulfilled in the end. Quite the opposite, actually.
When it comes to a relationship with God, losing is winning. God seeks out those who haven’t, and can’t, succeed on their own. He does not give out championship rings to those who beat back all comers. We do not compete for a pennant in this life. In fact, defeating opponents is His job, and often those around us end up seeing us as “losers.” As amazing as competition is and as much as we enjoy the win-or-go-home nature of the baseball playoffs, it is an eternal blessing that we can securely rest in the sure victory earned by Christ.