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Vital signs- Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

When asked about the personal cost of driving himself and his teammates to the top of the basketball world, Michael Jordan said, “Winning has a price.” Yet losing may have revealed Jordan’s competitive drive like winning never could.

As chronicled in Jason Hehir’s 2020 documentary, “The Last Dance,” by 1993 Jordan had pushed himself and his Chicago Bulls teammates to three straight National Basketball Association championships. Then Jordan took a sudden break from basketball following his father’s death. After nearly two years, he felt the urge to play again and returned to the NBA in the spring of 1995.

But Jordan’s comeback to the Bulls that year ended with a playoff series loss to Orlando. What happened immediately after that reveals his insatiable drive to win.

Jordan, always a workout warrior, normally recuperated following each NBA season. The night of the Bulls’ loss to Orlando, Jordan’s personal trainer, Tim Grover, called to say, “Let me know when you want me to see you.” Grover says that Jordan, fresh off his first playoff defeat in five years, said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jordan felt compelled to win. That next season he willed his Bulls team to a new record for wins during the regular season and a fourth NBA championship, which would be followed by two more titles. Said a Bulls teammate about Jordan’s drive to win back the crown, “You could tell he was on a mission.”

The apostle Paul had a different passion. He drove himself to take the gospel where people hadn’t yet heard it. Nearly two thousand years before modern air travel, Paul took three dangerous missionary journeys to spread the Good News. Near the end of his ministry Paul dreamed of going to Spain. What drove him to keep reaching out beyond his own people?

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reveals his motivation: “Christ’s love compels us.” Paul’s reverence for the Lord didn’t end with his quiet time. He needed to persuade others, to carry out the “ministry of reconciliation” by bringing people into fellowship with their Creator.

Missions didn’t start with Paul, and developing a heart to reach the world doesn’t start with us. Christ’s love compels us, driving us beyond where we think we can go. The Lord’s compassion for everyone in the world drove Him to send His Son to die for us. God not only “reconciled us to Himself through Christ,” but also “committed to us the message of reconciliation.” The overarching story of God’s love and compassion for all nations can drive us further into His arms and out to the ends of the earth.

What drives you?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

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