Life is filled with assumptions. These are often based on what we come to expect from our life experience. However, sometimes they can lead to erroneous beliefs when we do not have sufficient knowledge of a subject. They can even lead us down a dangerous road to ruin if these false premises are applied in a way that is detrimental.
This truth applies to all spheres of life, from how we work to how we socialize, from raising our children to loving our spouse. I even gained some insight about my faith, which is reinforced at this very important time of year for Christians, from the world of professional sports.
In that world, where I used to make my living, the false assumption that institutionalized welfare assistance is necessary for poor performing teams has led to a system in which a lack of integrity is invited to the competition. Games are being played at the highest level of sport in which one side benefits by winning, while their opponent benefits by losing—the same game! Yet the powers that be, as well as onlookers from all sides just nod their heads at the absurdity, because of the false premise that there is no other way. This has led to a modern-day conundrum in which teams are blatantly "tanking."
The lack of knowledge about the origins of pro sports' amateur draft leads to an erroneous conclusion that it must go in order from worst-to-first. In fact, such a structure was only a byproduct of system that was implemented in a different time in order to create a system for orderly assignment of player negotiating rights. I expose this false assumption in my latest book, Losing (To Win): How Incentivized Losing Undermines the Integrity of Our Major Professional Sports Leagues, as I expose how teams are attempting to lose their way to a better tomorrow. In the book, I lay out how simply changing how the draft order is assigned will once again encourage every team to give their all to win. It makes so much sense, yet the false assumption is so ingrained in the sporting world, that my plan is considered "radical" and "revolutionary."
This had been on my mind when an associate of mine recently declared that "religion is for the weak." He proclaimed, "I don't need religion to tell me right from wrong. I know what's the right thing to do, and I can take responsibility for my own life. I don't need some 'god' to tell me what to do."
Of course, my atheistic—or at least agnostic—friend had not given much intense study to the aspects of religion, which is what made it so easy for him to make his assertion. To him, religion—specifically Christianity, which was the impetus for his declaration—is associated with people asking for help from an inanimate being and relying on an ancient, irrelevant book for answers as to how one should live one's life.
As I was thinking about his position, and feeling a bit ashamed of my "weakness of character," it dawned on me that perhaps I am not so weak. Waking up every day trying to live a life worthy of God's amazing grace is not for the weak. Having the intestinal fortitude to live a life with high moral values is not for the weak—especially in an age when we are surrounded by temptation in so many forms.
Martin Luther wrote that, "A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need." Everyone has a god to whom they must answer. If it is not the God, then it is something or someone (perhaps ourselves?) that we anoint as "god." Now, ask yourself this: Is it easier to answer to the God or is it easier to answer to yourself? Is it easier to live by rules set down by God or by those set down by yourself? Is it easier to live by the Word of God or by the latest fads of contemporary society?
As our gadget-infested world moves toward an increasingly secular mindset, it should not be surprising that we see an intensifying movement to live by our own words instead of those of God. As computers give us the "power" to instantly control various aspects of our lives with the touch of a button, who needs the power of God any more? Even better, why should we feel compelled to live by His strict rules?
These times of exponential progress in technology are leading many to believe we are becoming so "advanced" as a society that we can just write our own rules. For example, we hear arguments that the Constitution of the United States is too "outdated" a document to be used any longer as the law of the land. This "enlightened" line of thinking has also penetrated the Christian realm, as similar questions are being asked regarding the Bible's worthiness as a guide for life. Are these revelations a result of enlightened thinking, or simply a move in the direction of our own convenience?
It is common around Christmas time for Christians to lament the fact that the reason for the season is lost in the hustle and bustle of shopping and parties. But what is the reason God sent His son to us, born of human flesh? Was it because He is a loving God? Certainly. But, perhaps it was also because He could see that, try as we might, we are incapable of living up to His high standards. The Old Testament is filled with stories of His people continually falling short of what God demanded. Living up to the standards set down by God in the Old Testament is surely not for the "weak."
It should be no surprise that a generous and loving God would come up with another means of allowing us to be one with Him, which was the message of the life—and death—of Jesus. That said, God's grace does not give us any kind of "free ride." We are still commanded to live our lives in response to God's love. As we move through Advent, preparing for Christmas, we are reminded not only of God's amazing love, but also of how strong we must be as Christians.
Jesus, himself, sums up how we must show our strength as he asserts (Matthew 22:37) "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Though His proclamation may seem soft at first, Christians understand the strength in those words. Yes, Christianity is for the strong, indeed.
A renowned innovator and disruptive solution-developer, Brad Kullman specializes in breaking down problems to their very core in order to generate a most effective—and lasting—fix. His first book, Hardwired for Life: Human Understanding Beyond Surface Personality, examines the latest breakthroughs in brain science to help readers understand the innate hardwired circuitry—who God made them to be—that makes them unique and explains why each of us thinks, behaves and performs as we do.