State of Origin. Who’s Team?

Jun 07, 2012 No Comments by

By Ron Ross 7 June, 2012
The surest way to initiate a conversation among strangers is to mention the National Rugby League “State of Origin.” Particularly if you are on the East Coast of Australia the response will be immediate. Queenslanders will rise up boasting of their current superiority. The NSW Cockroaches will be defiant despite six years of humiliation. I was born in Wollongong, NSW so I support the Gallon gang.

Recently in a Queensland church I raised this topic and the expected response came immediately.
I did not seek gain prayer for ‘The Blues’ but to challenge which team comes to mind for all of us Christians. The fact is, we have been ‘born again.’ (John 3: 7; 1 Peter 1: 3)

Years ago when I worked as Sports Editor for WINTV (Wollongong) I was closely associated with the Illawarra Rugby League. I counted rugby league champions Graeme Langlands, Keith Barnes, Mick Cronin, Harry Wells, Bobby Fulton among my associates. I televised champions like Johnny Raper and Reg Gasnier, and so many more. Today all of those men are like myself. We have aged and the days of their amazing feats are long gone, yet they gave us vivid and exciting memories.

Billy the Kid Slater

The stars of today offer the same enthusiastic attraction. Billy Slater is roundly acknowledged as the greatest of all time. He is electrifying. Great champions like Cameron Smith, Johnathon Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis and the inexhaustible Paul Gallon all deserves our warm and appreciative applause. But like the stars of my era, they will age. They will most certainly leave their mark but as the years pass by the will meet other physical and medical contests. They come to all of us.

My Christian faith offers a different, invigorating reality. Jesus is the same today, yesterday and forever. As our Lord and champion He enables us to maintain the war against the old enemy, the devil himself. (John 10:10). We may face the enemies of the fallen world, sickness and tragedy but we have our new life in Christ to lead us through. Equipping the saints they call it.

Conversion to Christ says ‘the old has passed away, all things become new.’ (2 Corinthians 5: 17)

I’m looking for the passion so openly displayed for the Queensland v NSW state of origin series to be seen in Christians who know and love the Lord.

In Luke 24 the disciples of Christ asked “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way?” (Luke 24: 32)

Jesus had something of that Wayne Bennett, Craig Bellamy about him. He inspired men. He still does that today if we acknowledge we are in His team and need His constant input and empowering.

It’s the burning heart we need in the contest with the enemy. That only comes by close attention to the coach of coaches, the King of kings.

Just before Jesus spoke to the men of Jerusalem the crowd was heckling the Christians. We know about heckling whether to support the Maroons or the Blues. Maybe you have been on the receiving end for your team or even for being a Christian.

But when Jesus spoke to them the boasters surrendered. They saw their own frailties and their hearts burned for the Lord.

They were ‘pricked to the heart’ says Acts 2:37. They were so enthused they asked “What shall we do?”

Hey I love my footie just like any other red-blooded supporter. But Jesus told us to sought out our priorities. ‘No one can serve two masters,” He said. (Matthew 6:24) Earlier He told His team “For where your treasure us, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Recently I met a young man from Sri Lanka. He serves the Lord in a Brisbane church. At meeting for men he asked me, “How do you reach out to Australian men?”

I told him he needed to understand our wicked put-down humour and not be shocked by things Aussies say. Often that kind of joking around is really an invitation to belong, to be one of the boys.

He told me he thought many Aussie men were hard and cautious. Worried about being seen for who they are really are.

The State of Origin can be a kind of protection. By keeping the conversation on football, the focus is turned away from the more touchy, intimate needs of life. As Christians we are called to bring the light of Christ into the darkness.

That takes the love of Christ to be burning in our hearts and that passion comes from staying close to the source of our being. The author and perfecter of our faith. There is a mystery to our victory. The Apostle Paul said it is will by God and it makes known ‘the riches of His glory.” It is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ (Col 1:27)

This year enjoy the footie but join me on the winning team. His!

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About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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