Life is a Team Sport

This weekend I attended the Texas High School State Gymnastics Competition in Fort Worth. My son had qualified as an individual with his floor routine, and I went to support and encourage him. My daughter and I got an early start just in case there was traffic or we got lost looking for the host high school. We got there with plenty of time to spare and made our way into the gym. Teams of parents were sitting together with matching team shirts holding team spirit signs. They had cordoned off rows of bleachers with plastic tape to ensure absolute solidarity. My son’s team had not qualified; only one other teammate of his was competing, and we hadn’t even thought to wear our team colors. We found ourselves sitting amidst seas of orange and maroon and green and purple, signs occasionally obscuring our view, and our cheers easily drowned out by the collective cries of the color-coordinated crowds. Gymnastics is an individual sport, like swimming or track and field. Individuals compete in each event, and then their scores are combined to declare both team and individual winners. So, when it is time for the state championships, both teams and individuals qualify for the state competition.

As the tournament opens , the athletes march into the gym with a bit of pomp and circumstance: musical accompaniment, a team guide bearing a sign with the team’s name, an announcer with the perfect emcee voice booming out the names of the teams as they enter to a warm and very loud welcome by their spirited fans. If you are an individual competing, you carry your own sign and your team name is slightly less boomed and you stand behind the team you will be tagging along with throughout the various rotations.

There is no doubt as you watch the teams on the gym floor pump each other up with chants and cheers and celebratory shouts and fist pumps, or consoling hugs and backslaps and hear the roars of their crowds: those traveling as a team have a distinct advantage over the lone competitors quietly following them to each event. No doubt at all.

We weren’t meant to do life alone. We were meant to dwell together. God himself dwells in the community of the Trinity. He immediately recognizes the need for his creation to have a partner. He establishes a group of people with whom he can dwell and be in relationship. He teaches them the importance of living together well in love and respect for him and for each other, and patiently waits for them to learn. He is so interested in the reconciliation of his creation, he moves into the world with us to show us how to have a full life with one another. When he leaves, his disciples begin meeting daily to cheer each other on and celebrate this full life of togetherness. They are followers of his way. They are a body of believers. His body. His church.

His people are still meeting today. They still come together in groups of two to two thousand. Some daily or near daily, some weekly. Some in ornate buildings, some in huts or houses or the corner coffee shop. There are consoling hugs when one falls down, and shouts of joy when one of them sticks it. And there is no doubt as you watch, these folks have a distinct advantage over the lone travelers.