According to the NCAA, only six percent of high school athletes are selected to play at the collegiate level, and fewer than two percent of those student-athletes go on to become professional athletes.1 The competition is fierce. Every detail of a team’s training and equipment can make the difference between success and failure. In the world of sports, sponsorships play a pivotal role, providing the financial support needed for athletes to train well. In exchange, the athletes advocate for their sponsor’s product or service by appearing in commercials or donning their logo during gameplay. It’s a winning arrangement for the athletes and their sponsors.
Have you ever considered that we have a Sponsor for our daily life? As we work against deadlines, interact with neighbors, and respond to rude drivers, we represent the One who purchased us with His blood. According to the terms of His sponsorship, everyone should be able to recognize us as members of His team because of our love for others (John 13:35). So let me ask this: When others see you, do they recognize your Sponsor?
Sports provide a more fitting comparison to our spiritual life than we might imagine. Again and again, the Bible encourages us with words that describe a physical struggle.
1 Timothy 6:12
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:14, NLT
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?
Galatians 5:7, NIV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
1 Corinthians 9:24
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
Each day brings high-stakes situations that require time and training to live victoriously. We need a Sponsor to clothe us in His Name, support our efforts, and meet our needs as we convey His image and glory. Who could do that? Who but Jesus! Charles Spurgeon once said, “Dear friends, as many of us as have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ are in Christ, and he is our… Shepherd and Sponsor.”
Jesus paid dearly for our sponsorship. He knew we couldn’t succeed on our own, so He died on Calvary’s cross, redeeming us from our sins and providing a backing that would take us all the way to victory.
What a wonderful privilege to be sponsored by God, to wear the garments of grace, and to be His representatives on earth! We’re His ambassadors. Wherever we are, we bear His name—Christ’s ones, Christians. Each word and every action is an opportunity to advance His honor and His cause.
His Sponsorship Gives Us Our Identity
Jesus Christ is not only our Sponsor, but He also understands our struggle. During His life, He was tempted in every way, opposed by the ruling authorities, and deserted by His companions. When life overwhelms us with the pressures of chasing our dreams, raising our children, paying our bills, and establishing our careers, our Sponsor will provide the training and equipment to ensure our success.
When Christ’s name is written across our uniform and His wisdom guides us, we can run our race with confidence. Isaiah 42:16 contains a precious promise for difficult times: “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.”
In sports, sponsors select athletes who will represent their interests well. If an athlete’s off-court activities do not represent the brand’s ideals, the organization may pull its support. But our Sponsor does not support us because of anything we have done or will do. He promises to support us because we have put our trust in Him. Our value and identity are inseparable from Him, and none of our failures can cause Him to pull His sponsorship from us.
His Sponsorship Gives Us Joy
Top-performing athletes train their minds as well as their bodies. Resilience, determination, and optimism form a protective barrier that insulate a competitor from the effects of temporary setbacks. These qualities are easier to achieve with a sponsor because, whatever happens, the athlete knows they’re still in the game.
Sherwood Wirt, founding editor of Decision Magazine, said that one day he decided to learn more about the celebratory joy of being a Christian. Taking down his concordance, he looked up the word joy. After a while he felt like shouting, “Eureka! I have found the cave of Aladdin.” Dr. Wirt counted 542 references to joy, which included 141 references to gladness, 85 references to delight, 70 references to pleasure, 40 references to laughter, 30 references to merry, 27 references to happiness, and a host of references in newer versions to exuberance, jubilation, merriment, rapture, bliss, and other synonyms for joy. “The Bible,” exclaimed Wirt, “is a book of joy.”
The sponsorship of Christ’s Name gives us identity, confidence, and joy. But that’s not all—it guarantees ultimate victory. When we’ve made our final play, we know the Lord Jesus Christ will be there to celebrate with us.
Do you have that hope, too? Are you sponsored by the Savior? Is His identity displayed on your heart, along with His confidence, His joy, and His certain victory? “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
1 NCAA NCAA.org, “NCAA Recruiting Facts,” updated March 2018, https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Recruiting%20Fact%20Sheet%20WEB.pdf#:~:text=Fewer%20than%202%20percent%20of%20NCAA%20student-athletes%20go,will%20go%20pro%20in%20something%20other%20than%20sports. Accessed on August 17, 2020.
This article originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of Turning Points devotional magazine. Request your complimentary subscription today!