I’ve always felt awkward about Robert Murphy holding up the premiership cup after the Western Bulldogs beat Sydney in the the 2016 Grand Final.
Yes, I know he was the captain of the team and that he was a significant part of the reason they got into the Grand Final. But the fact remains, that he didn’t play the game. His guernsey wasn’t stained with grass or filled with sweat and his body didn’t have the bruises to show how he put his body on the line to help his team win on the day.
Every year the Bulldogs celebrate the win, it’s going to be that awkward moment. Do we invite him, or do we leave him off the list? I feel for Easton Wood, the premiership captain who forever has to share the moment with a man who never stepped onto the battle ground. Awkward.
At the end of the day, what really matters is not whether you own a team guernsey, but whether you get in the game, because only those who get in the game can share the glory.
When it comes to our Christian life, there are also those who are happy to wear the guernsey, but stop short of getting into the game. The heavy knocks, the slap of the skin during a heavy tackle, the blood and sweat involved in following Jesus can seem all too real – and some would prefer to hang the glossy posters on the walls rather than stepping into battle.
But it’s only those who are willing to suffer who will share in the glory:
‘The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him’ – Romans 8:16-17
The point is not that we earn our salvation through suffering, but rather that we share in His glory through suffering. It’s not our performance that earns us the medallion, because no matter how poorly you play on Grand Final day, you still get a medal. The blood and bruises are simply evidence that we were in the game.
So don’t make it awkward. Leave the posters behind and cross the line. Get in the game, and be ready to suffer in order to share in the glory of being part of the greatest team!