I recently read a book about the life of an amazing basketball player. My time within the basketball world was concurrent with that of “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Pistol Pete is legendary and still holds many records for scoring within both the NCAA and NBA.
Before I go on too long here, this is not a sports story or discussion. There was an interesting parallel that I discovered as I read the story. For year after year, Pistol Pete was famous for his ability to score from any position and against any defense. As his fame for scoring grew so did is dissatisfaction with the game of basketball as well as his discontentment with his life.
There was a far too brief period wherein all of that changed. Many who have played, competitively, any team game will identify with the rare time in which the team ceases to be a collection of individuals and becomes a unit of one. Pistol Pete discovered this far too rare state when he adjusted his attitude toward the game.
It is impossible for a collection of individuals to ever realize the flow and the joy of the team experience. The term “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” describes this rarefied state.
Jesus knew of the deep, deep nature that moves within us because He chose personally experienced our nature.
As the cross drew imminent, Jesus laid out the desires of His heart in a prayer: I do not (just) as in behalf of these (His disciples) alone but for those who believe in Me through their word: that they may all be one; even as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You did send Me. And the glory which You have given Me, I have given them; that they may be one, just as WE are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…John 17:20-23a
There is a, otherwise impossible to know, glory that exists within the unity of an individual with his Creator; “that they also may be in Us”. Furthermore, in addition to this and not as a separate option, is the glory that comes within the unity of believers who are in unity with the Creator; “that they may all be one; even as You, Father are in Me and I in You”.
The natural urge within each of us is to be independent. We simply desire to follow our own ideas and choose our own destinies. Jesus recognized this “pull” within each of us and warned us about this proclivity and is natural effects. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s sake shall save it”. Mark 8:35
This “losing one’s life” is not a one-time commitment. The natural bent of our personalities is not eradicated by a one-time decision. No, rather, this is a moment by moment decision. If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me…Luke 9:23
The implement of death, the cross, must be picked up daily but it is for the sole purpose of carrying this life-giving tool with us throughout the day for us to choose to use on a moment by moment basis.
Moses called us to choose life, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curses. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers…Deuteronomy 30:19&20