By Rob Beames
The National Football League Draft is one of the largest televised events of the sporting world. During its current three-day format, it turns more young men into millionaires than Wall Street, “Deal or No Deal,” or “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” combined. Although Easter fell in the same month as this spectacular event, chances are, more men in America were interested in their favorite team’s draft picks than were focused on thanking God for their costly redemption. Both events spawn incredible amounts of hope—one material, the other spiritual. Naturally, men are more drawn to the things that can be touched, seen, bought or tackled. It’s easy to see why the NFL Draft attracts so much attention every year.
Throughout the seven rounds more than 225 men are selected, based on their last three to four years on the gridiron. Anticipation builds with each pick, as remaining players wonder if their efforts were enough to draw the required interest from a team to spend a draft pick on them. Every year there’s an interesting story line about a particular player or two.
For example in 2007, NFL quarterback Brady Quinn stewed in New York City, as 20 teams declined to select him in the first round. All the “experts” expected him to be one of the top picks that year, so every NFL team which passed him by translated in a huge decrease in his expected salary. Finally, the Cleveland Browns bought their way back into the first round to select him, proving one group of individuals didn’t feel he was over-rated. At least, one team felt he had enormous value!
This year, two highly esteemed quarterbacks from the college ranks, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy, fell out of the first round, as well. They were wise to sit at home surrounded by loved ones, rather than wait in front of a national audience in the Big Apple. Nobody likes to have their hopes crushed. It’s embarrassing when we fail to meet expectations, especially our own. We don’t like to be selected last, even if there is no money involved. Whether we’re at Radio City Music Hall, or on the backyard kickball lot, everybody wants confirmation that they appeal to someone.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the spiritual realm, we know we are all potential first-round busts. Based on our spiritual failures, regardless of what the “mock drafts” may say, we have a deep-rooted sense that we are rated too high on anyone’s draft board. Far below the surface we realize we really shouldn’t be drafted at all—at least not by an awesome and holy God.
Fortunately for us, God doesn’t share this perspective. From His vantage point, which spans the cross of Christ, we are His first round draft pick. However, He does agree that based on our own righteousness, we wouldn’t make His team as undrafted free agents. That’s why He’s gone out and won a championship for us. We wear a Super Bowl Ring to prove it!
Peter, one of the closest companions of Jesus, explains this concept further, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:19-21). In these verses, we are reminded that something of immense value was given up in order to take us out of an empty life; a life without value.
Peter refers to the blood of Christ as redeeming our worthless state caused by those who sinned long before we came along. This isn’t to say we aren’t responsible for our state of holy inadequacy—we do plenty to fall far short of God’s requirement of perfection. It’s through the death of Jesus we have been given new life along with the ability to please God. Peter tells us that it’s through Him that we even believe in God!
Clearly this was no accident; rather it was planned before the “creation of the world.” Before God forged everything that we see in the universe, He wanted to be with us. At that time, He resolved to do whatever it took to have a relationship with us! It took the blood of Jesus to accomplish this. All the gold and silver couldn’t make it happen. These spoil much too easily, and do not come close to the price needed to bring you to God.
We don’t normally consider gold and silver perishable, however, Peter intentionally uses this contrast to make his point: compared to the perfect work of Jesus, that which we consider enduring is actually only temporary. Those things we consider rare and priceless are insignificant and of no value in contrast. This is why our faith and hope are found in God, rather than in our spiritual performance, our obedience or in the sacrifices we may make.
So, the next time you feel that you’ve broken things so badly that there is no restoration, remember that He fixed things long before you devised a way to mess them up. The next time you think you don’t have the strength to endure, remember He cleared the way for you before you took your first step. The next time you think you have done something so well that God ought to be impressed, remember that you captured His attention before the world began. Thankfully, we don’t have to hope our “good games” overshadow the times we fail to “bring it” spiritually. Because of Christ, our hope is solely in God. It doesn’t quite sound fair, does it? We naturally expect to get what we deserve; but mercifully, we do not.
Imagine how it would have went last April if, as the NFL Draft was just beginning, Commissioner Roger Goodell pulled a Jets fan out of the audience and lead him to the podium, not to announce the number one pick, but rather to become the number one pick!
What if the announcement went something like this: “Based on Sam Bradford’s outstanding performance in college, Joe Schmoe, an out-of-shape, former captain of his high school chess team, will be selected as the number one pick in this year’s draft.” One would be able to hear the “boo-birds” all the way from California after an announcement like that. How insane would that be? It would be radically unfair! The way God considers us infinitely invaluable, when we actually have no worth in ourselves is equally unfair. His extraordinary love for us has made us all first round draft picks in His eyes! (I believe He wanted me to remind you of this!)