What it Means to Win…

\"BasketballDuring this election season, the question lingers, “Who will win?” For me, this question has morphed into another, broader theological question: “what does it mean to win?” Or, “What does it mean to win as a human being?” Better, “What does it mean to win in life as a child of God?”

After all, no one wants to lose.

While pondering the meaning of winning, I came across the lyrics of a familiar Negro Spiritual, “Fare Ye Well.” 

My true believers, fare ye well,

Fare ye well, fare ye well,

Fare ye well, by de grace of God,

For I \’m going home.

Massa Jesus give me a little broom

For to sweep my heart clean,

And I will try, by de grace of God,

To win my way home.

The second stanza (above) sheds light into Christian slaves’ theology of winning.

Among other implications (particularly in the first stanza), the lyrics ( in the second stanza) suggests two important insights concerning \”winning.\” The first is that winning is birthed out of relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus has what it takes, and our participatory relationship with Him is crucial to what it means to win.  

King David asked a rhetorical question of related concern and followed-up with a response of similar resolution: 

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word (Psalms 119:9 NIV).

Reading the lyrics in the spiritual through the lens of the Psalms, we learn that the Word of God is the “little broom” (in the song) we need for heart cleansing. So, it is prudent that we meditate on the Word, daily.

Secondly, Christian slaves associated heart-cleansing with the highest form of winning. For them, to gain a place of belonging with Jesus, or to have a relationship with Jesus is what it means to win.  

It is of utmost importance to understand that the Christian journey is a life of faith. We need Jesus to help us to walk by faith.

Amidst life’s competitiveness, be encouraged that the faith journey is a race all of us can win; it is a non-competitive race. It is not about who gets there first. The winners are anyone who perseveres through the ups and downs of life with Jesus. We are in different places in our journey. Let\’s keep moving. Each of us will get through the journey with Jesus!

The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:

 …let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12: 1–2). 

Get up and get dressed; Get ready to win with Jesus!

Blessings, Dr. Antipas

Dr. Antipas L. Harris
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