Lionel Messi scored in the 91st minute – in stoppage time – to earn Argentina their World Cup 2014 group game win over Iran. Our God can intervene in our life in the 91st minute – between the neck and the knife as he did to save the life of tied-on-the-altar Isaac from the sword of Abraham – and do a miracle for us. So, let’s not lose hope!
SLOWING DOWN SWITZERLAND AND SLEEPING DAVID
Bible truth from the Argentina-Switzerland last 16 World Cup 2014 game
Towards the end of the second half of extra-time in the Argentina-Switzerland last 16 knockout game in the World Cup 2014, agressive-till-that-point Switzerland looked like waiting for the penalty shootout. They weren’t exactly looking to win. And Argentina wasted no time in pouncing upon the surprising Swiss slow-down and went on to punish them led by the magical Lionel Messi who usurped the ball from the Swiss defense, gave it a few deft touches like only he can before passing the ball to compatriot Angel Di Maria who scored for Argentina to make it 1-0 in the 118th minute – with just 90 seconds of regulation time left. As one observer put it, “Switzerland were supposed to keep the ball near the Argentine goal as the game inched towards the penalty shootout. Instead they were passing the ball around near their goal and this lead to their downfall.” When King David did not attack but chose to ‘stay back’ when he fell into temptation (2 Sam. 11:1). He was supposed to be busy leading his country in a war. But he chose to stay back in the palace and sleep till late afternoon when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. ‘Resting’ David became ‘rusting’ David. Laziness is an open invitation for the Devil to tempt you! Being an attacking Christian – which practically means that you don’t miss any opportunity to witness, you race for those weekend outreaches, you dash when you get a chance share your testimony, etc – is a great safeguard against temptation.
GOLDEN BALL VS WORLD CUP MEDAL; ALL THAT THE WORLD OFFERS VS KNOWING CHRIST
“He returned to the pitch with the Golden Ball trophy of the FIFA World Cup 2014 dangling limply by his side, as if waiting to be dispatched in the first dustbin he could find.” So wrote Dominic Fifield of The Gaurdian about Lionel Messi. Messi could have thrown away his golden ball, if that could be exchanged for a World Cup Winner medal. For him, winning the World Cup with Argentina was more important than winning the Golden Ball. Apostle Paul, in the same vein said he would trash all his qualifications in the trash can if that would help him to know Christ (Phil 3:8). We could give up anything – family ties, property, wealth, just anything, in order to know Christ! When it came to the golden ball or the World Cup medal, Messi preferred the World Cup medal. When we have to choose between the world and all that it offers and knowing Christ, we must choose knowing Christ.
MESSI, THE TEAM MAN: ARE YOU ONE?
The Champions League Final 2015 is the first club football game I watched “live” in full. My following of football is limited to the World Cups. Having realized the Google Genners I minister to go gaga over club football, I decided to watch the annual climax match of all club football – The Champions League Final.
Mark Doyle wrote these lines – lines I enjoyed reading – for Goal website after Barcelona lifted the Champions League Trophy for 2015 by defeating Juventus 3-1 in Berlin on 6 June 2015:
“True, Messi did not score, but his contributions were once again crucial. Indeed, he was involved in all of Barca’s goals in their 3-1 win. It was his pass which picked out Jordi Alba on the left-hand side in the lead-up to Ivan Rakitic’s wonderfully worked opener, a perfect example of the playmaking responsibilities which he has embraced so wholeheartedly for the good of both Barcelona and Argentina. Messi is a fantastic individual but he’s also a great team player. As evidenced by the way in which he handed over a penalty to Neymar in the Liga rout at Cordoba. Messi was on a hat-trick and fighting for the Pichichi with Cristiano Ronaldo but Neymar had yet to net. Consequently, Messi selflessly stepped aside. But it is Messi who lifts Barcelona when they are down. Indeed, they were being bossed in Berlin for 10 minutes after Alvaro Morata’s equaliser but then Messi intervened, charging forward towards the Bianconeri defence before deftly side-stepping Andrea Barzagli and then unleashing a low drive that Gianluigi Buffon could only parry into the path of Suarez.”
Lionel Messi, the best footballer in the planet arguably can do it alone. But he won’t. He loves to play for the benefit of the team(s) he plays for. It’s so eloquently mentioned above.
Lionel Messi inspires us believers to team up with other believers to build God’s Kingdom. “Two are better than one. If one falls down, the other will pick him up….but pity the man who falls down and has none to pick him up…” (Eccl 4:9-10).
In the Bible we see teams of people joining together to build God’s Kingdom. Moses needed a Joshua to hold his hands high while in intercession for his nation in battle and Joshua did not shy away from that not-so-glamourous team task. Nehemiah the political leader he joined with the religious teacher Ezra to build God’s Kingdom.
If there was anyone who could have done it all alone it was God-in-flesh, Jesus. But he chose to build God’s Kingdom with the twelve.
In Paul’s ministry team there were atleast 60 different names. This we discover when we read his multiple letters in the New Testament.
Are you part of a team to build God’s Kingdom? I am (however imperfectly). If I have to go on Facebook to make a point that would make a soundly biblical point my friend has already made, I will do it! If I have to interpret the message of a much-much-more-famous Tamil preacher whose ministry I believe in, into English, I will do it! If I have to stand in the kitchen and help my wife in cooking by atleast getting her the appropriate vessels or stuff from the kitchen, I will do it!
There may be a biblically sound missionary organization that has attracted youth who are ready to go and be a missionary to a needy area without the Gospel. Will you “team” up with that organization by financially supporting it? Oh, you can team up to build God’s kingdom in so many ways!
What about you? Are you a team person? You must be one!
Writing about Lionel Messi, the BBC notes, “He continued to try for a way through against Iceland with 11 attempted shots, the most he’s ever tried in a World Cup game, but was left frustrated.” Argentina Vs Iceland. Russia World Cup 2018. Messi was not a sluggard, someone who did not try. The Bible says, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied” (Prov. 13:4). We must try. We must try without giving up. We may not win everyone for Christ, but we must honestly try to share the Gospel and leave the results with God. We are not called to “Christianize”, but to “evangelize”.
(These are various devotions that Duke Jeyaraj wrote at various times. Bible Truth starting with football games featuring Lionel Messi is the common thread in this post. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org).