From the Rev: The Red Line
The red line – it is every coach’s nemesis in Major League Soccer. It’s simple: teams above the red line when the season ends gain entry into the playoffs for the MLS Cup. Teams below the red line go home early.
Every coach handles the red line differently – some watch it closely from the beginning of the year to the end. Others pay it no attention (or, so they say) choosing rather to take it “one game at a time.” Some coaches play through a thousand scenarios and calculate how many points are needed to be above the red line when the season ends. But amidst formulaic calculations and all manner of worry and concern, the red line represents a very real threat in this business where performance means everything.
For many clubs and organizations, making the playoffs is the litmus test, the baseline for determining success. The teams that fail to make it – their coaching staff, executive staff, not to mention the players themselves are in danger of losing their jobs, their livelihood. There is often great disappointment for those who try to live above the red line and then fail and fall, especially late in the season.
In reflecting theologically on the red line – there are two thoughts that occur to me. First, that there is a line that we all fall short of regardless of our competence, ability, strength, power, or resources. It is the ideal and standard that God has set before all mankind – Romans 3:23 we see Paul writing, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… The glory of God, think about it for a moment. What is the most glorious moment you have ever been a part of? For me, the 2010 MLS Cup win with the Colorado Rapids was a “glorious” moment. I remember the confetti and fireworks, the hoisting of the trophy, the cheers and jubilation of the team at accomplishing the task of winning the Cup. But for all of the glory of that moment – it fell short of God’s glory. In fact, it was incomparable to even a fraction of God’s glory. So in a sense, there is a line (I don’t know if it’s red or blue or black) that we can not measure up to. The standard of God’s glory is always before us as an unattainable measure.
However, we have encouragement from the apostle Paul to, press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). This mark, this goal, this line that Paul is referring to has to do with the way that we live out life as followers of Jesus. There is a goal of knowing and becoming like Jesus – and this line (not achieved by Paul under his own admission) is something that we ought to strive for. It is not something that we give up on. Paul also writes (I Corinthians 9:24-26),
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step…
It may seem an oxymoron – to strive for the unattainable, to reach for the unreachable, to press on toward the mark – but this is the call of Christ on our lives. It is a call to live above the red line – no matter how far it may seem. May you run the race. May you press on toward the mark – for there awaits an eternal prize for you and for me.
Rev. Brad Kenney