Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Beloved Underdog

There are a few fates worse than death when you are in middle school:

tripping up the stairs with your arms full of books because you were staring at that person you have a crush on...
having a teacher, parent or other adult call you honey or sweetheart in front of your classmates...
and the worst...
being the last person (or next to last) picked on a sport team in gym class.

No one want to be the last one chosen, no one wants to be unpopular, no one wants to be the underdog. The underdog is the one who always struggles, fights and often isn't the winner at the end of the kickball game. But to be honest, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the underdog.

When I was a child, I used to watch a cartoon that helped me learn to love the underdog. The cartoon was, big surprise here, "Underdog!". It was fascinating to see how a poorly equipped, not particularly strong super hero, managed to win. Underdog the Dog would never fail to give it his all and rush into the fight saying, "Never fear, Underdog is here!" There is something admirable about a person that goes for it, on the behalf of others; epically when most people doubt their ability to help. Underdogs are brave and wholehearted about the cause they are working for and I have to say I'm one who respects that.

Jesus, I think, respected and rooted for the underdogs of life too. As you look at the gospels, Jesus defends children - women - and people that the world simply did not have time for. Jesus example of caring for the oppressed, misunderstood, and in need challenges people to realign perspective on who we need to be rooting for.
In the book "Becoming the Beloved" by Henri Nouwen, he states that each person is a unique creation of God that is chosen, blessed, broken (or imperfect)and given to be a blessing and gift back to others. To be honest, I think it's fair to say that each and every one of us is an underdog in one way or the other. We all have things in life that are hard or impossible for us to accomplish. But after all our striving to be perfect, maybe embracing our "underdogness" is a better choice than trying to hide it.

We all need help in life. God knew that and provided for that need in the life and sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.

1 Corinthians 1:26 through 31 speaks to the underdog in each one of us...
"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

We all are underdogs. We all trip on stairs, are embarrassed in front of our friends, and sometimes we even are chosen last for a game of kickball. If people choose us last, we can know it our hearts that it's alright because God has already chosen us. With God, we are chosen, blessed, even though we are imperfect and then given back to the world. We are on God's team; on bad days and good, when we loose or win, when we are sad and when we are joyful. God has chosen you.

May this promise of being chosen by God be enough to encourage you to run into the fray of life shouting like Underdog saying, "Never fear,(your name)is here - and God is with me!"

Yes, you are an underdog. But most of all remember ... you are a beloved underdog of God.

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