So as you may know I’ve been reading and recently finished what must be one of the best football biographies I’ve ever read to date. It’s by Leo McKinstry it’s called Sir Alf about the rise and fall of the only man to win England the World Cup as manager. It is a fascinating tale of a man who went to great lengths to shut out the media and developed the ideal siege mentality and loyalty among his players in order to gain success but was unable to keep changing with the times to accommodate further success. It has been an excellent read and is remarkable for its ability to tell so much about a guy who said so little. This is a read I’d strongly recommend not just for sports fans but for anyone into decent life stories.
I’ve started reading an unauthorised biography of Diana Ross by J. Randy Taraborrelli. I’m not a Ross fan at all. Indeed I was taken up with the negative press about her. Taraborrelli has written two treatments of the lady previous to this one and I have a vague recollection of his last one Call Her Miss Ross which reinforced the unpleasant diva style that put me off her. So why read about her in this updated completely overhauled version? It’s just that I’m into lives at the moment as you can tell with the biographies I’ve read this year. I want to get a better picture of her through this treatment as well uncover human traits that’s replete with gospel connections and perhaps to see whether it was worth having the opinion of her that I had.
So far in the book I’ve reached the point where Diana has made it to Motown with the Supremes formerly known as the Primettes. She has not made it to worldwide fame and is making her way through education. Taraborrelli makes the statement that Ross just has her eyes on the prize. It is already implicit within the narrative that Ross will use whatever means possible to reach those ends. I imagine the full extent of her machinations will be seen as the story moves on, but when I read about her eyes being on the prize it linked nicely to the major outcome of this month’s Audio August.
Now if you don’t know Audio August it’s a concept that came to me recently based on the importance of taking our relationship with God serious enough to listen to Him. So over the month along with other committed followers of Christ there’s been an effort to pay careful attention to what it is to listen to God, how we do that, obstacles preventing that and ways to overcome that. Most importantly the theme has genuinely been about hearing what God has to say to us. I hope to be able to post some findings of this exercise over on the StokeCOG blog in the near future.
For the time being, however, one of the major things to come out of that session was the word focus. You would have seen it knocking about some of the posts since April, but it has intensified in fulfilling the call of God on my life. The issue then links well with keeping your eyes on the prize. The issue is what prize are our eyes on? As worshipful creatures the issue has never been our lack of focus, the issue has been the target of the focus. This is particularly the case when elements of Christian faith are primarily being presented as solving our felt needs. So the focus is on self satisfaction – the prize is a life that’s alright, that’s comfortable that sees me alright. That is the primary focus – I want to be alright. In fact people searched the scriptures as we discovered recently to find eternal life.
Now what’s wrong with that? Seems reasonable enough doesn’t it? I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I’m naked, I’m lonely, I’m homeless and I’m imprisoned, Matt 25 talks about looking after those needs right? The problem is that this is not God’s priority for the peak of his creation. Indeed the core of Jesus’ ministry was calling people to forget about self-satisfaction, come across self-crucifixion and find true life in Christ. That makes the prize Christ. This is a common theme in New Testament scripture from Jesus’ own ministry through to all who would follow after Him. If the prize is Christ that’s where come across people willing to give up everything to attain the prize.
Unsurprisingly if you present a gospel where the prize is you at your best and all you’ve ever wanted guaranteed then disappointment is bound to follow. What vacuous and empty prizes we are in ourselves because what makes us who we are is bigger than us and beyond us.
This has further implications for the output of this blog over the next month as we shall see …
For His Name's Sake