13 Aug “Let Go of the Laurel Wreath
Read 1 Corinthians 9
Thought for the Day: “Things” will always let me down but Jesus won’t!
Immediately after Coach John Wooden led the UCLA Bruins to an unprecedented 10th NCAA National Championship, the net was cut down and Wooden wore it as a necklace. Capping off the greatest college coaching career of all time, this victory proved that there has never been and will never be a college basketball coach as great as John Wooden. However, Coach Wooden was a great leader not because of his strategy or even the “pyramid of success”. Instead, Wooden’s greatness came from his deep love for Jesus and reliance on Him as the Ultimate Coach of his life. In his own words, “I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior.” Coach Wooden ultimately knew that even championship net necklaces fade away. Ultimate victory comes from faith in Christ.
Coach Wooden’s favorite Book of the Bible was 1st Corinthians. It was there that he learned to pursue Christ rather than perishable human accomplishments. Writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul didn’t describe a net necklace. He described a wreath. In the ancient world, athletes competed for the ultimate earthly prize – a laurel wreath. Victorious athletes were idolized by society and given the same headgear worn by heroic generals. To wear the laurel wreath was to be recognized as a hero. However, Paul knew that even heroic laurel wreaths are temporary. He reminds us that as followers of Jesus we have an advantage: “They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” While human accomplishments ultimately fade away, victory through Christ is eternal.
It is easy to get caught up with perishable accomplishments. How many times have we chosen to chase after a perishable laurel wreath rather than pursue Christ with our whole hearts? Promotions at work and pay raises have the ability to fool us into giving up time with our families. The promise of bigger houses and fancier vacations can tempt us to compromise our core values. Like the laurel wreath, these things are perishable and ultimately let us down. Instead, we are called to pursue Christ with consistency in all parts of our lives. I have never heard someone say, “I wish I had spent less time with my kids.” Or, “I wish I hadn’t been so kind and loving to my spouse.” Or, “I wish I spent less time reading my Bible and praying.” Victory through Christ is not perishable! Today, we can let go of our laurel wreaths and follow Christ!
Pastors Stan and David