Sermon Illustrations
Posted by Douglas on Jul 08, 2006

I will never be a professional ping-pong player. For one thing, I only get to play once or twice per year, and even then it's only just a couple games.

But there's another reason. I think of ping-pong as a cooperative sport, rather than a competitive sport. If I had my choice in the matter, instead of playing games, I would just hit the ball back and forth with someone of a comparable ability level for hours on end without even keeping score.

Being at camp this past week, I had some time in the evenings to play ping-pong against several talented players. One of the men I played against, whose name was Rob, would probably have beat me, except that he couldn't return my serves. If I had had my choice in the matter, I wouldn't have even played games against him. I would have just kept serving the ball to him, exactly the same way each time, until he figured out how to return it. Of course, if I had done that, when we did play a game, he probably would have beat me.

Another side effect of this "cooperative" attitude is that I always end up working into a rhythm with the other player. One gentleman I played against said to me after the game, "You were going easy on me, weren't you?"

Well, no, not exactly. I just tend to (without really even thinking about it) find a rhythm that we can both volley in, because having a good volley is far more enjoyable to me than winning a point.

And that's why I could never be a professional, even if I was professional in my ability. I don't think of the game as a competition, but as an opportunity for two people to work together at both becoming more capable.

Of course, this attitude is not very healthy for a ping-pong player, but it is healthy in the Christian life. Far too often we find ourselves competing instead of cooperating. I shouldn't be trying to win honor, prestige, power, or leadership at the expense of another. Jesus had many comments to make about that sort of attitude. Instead, we should be striving to build one another up in the faith...working on our "serve" together, instead of trying to outdo the other guy.

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