What a Miami Heat Game has to do with Surrender

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. – Philippians 2:5-13

People are inherently selfish. This is why it’s noteworthy when someone does something legitimately unselfish, when someone does something for someone else with no regard for themselves. They usually end up on magazine covers and talk shows. Such behavior runs counter to our nature, so it stands out.

That’s why what happened at the end of a recent Miami Heat game was so remarkable. In a world of prove-your-worth-to-the-world machismo and selfishness, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra did something almost unprecedented: he took his hands off the controls. In a critical moment with time running out and his team trailing, Spoelstra elected not to call a timeout to diagram a play. He decided to let his players run free and decide the game. Here’s ESPN’s Henry Abbott on the decision:

This is big.

To understand how big, you have to understand how impossibly tough it is for coaches to come around to the idea that the best thing for their team might be … less coaching.

By the time you have put in the insane hours that it takes to become an NBA head coach, often generally at the expense of a quality family life or anything else that matters much, you have to really be attached to something.

For many coaches, the thing they’re attached to is the idea of calling the shots.

We want desperately to take credit, both as people, in general, and as Christians, in particular. Many Christians loudly proclaim that they are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, but that they had to choose to accept it. This would be like Erik Spoelstra saying, “All the credit goes to the players, but they do have to run the sets that I design.”

Spoelstra’s ability to let go would be a great model for us all—if we could do it. Unfortunately, God has to take control away from us. Fortunately, He does just that. Our salvation is accomplished by God’s action: He comes to us, opens our eyes to our needs, and then announces that our needs have been met in Christ. We are addicted to doing. In Christ, the work is done.

– Tullian Tchividjian


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