OFFENSE clap! clap!

Super Bowl LI was one of the most stringent upsets to the city of Atlanta. After leading by 25 points with 18 minutes left to play, Atlanta’s defense allowed the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history as New England unleashed a 31 unanswered-points war on us. Our Defensive line put up a fight in durable falcon fashion that concluded in overtime. However, in patriot fashion, sadly, the men tamed the beasts. In the last 4 minutes of OT Atlanta was found futilely posted up in defense at New England’s end zone. A debate is warranted. Did the New England Patriots earn the victory, or did we give it away? There was one detail that I’d like to focus on among the many reasons for the defeat. Mental mistakes, penalties and a weakened defensive effort are on the list of explanations.

I am aware of the sports philosophy that “defense wins games.” I played basketball and softball from 9th grade to 11th grade.  They called me Magic. I am a relative sports enthusiast, not an expert. That said, I think that Atlanta lost the Super Bowl because the defensive line was exhausted. New England’s offense was relentless in the second half of the game, causing our defense to travail in overloaded overtime.

The points that New England made is how they won the game. They kept Atlanta on the run – on the defensive.

What’s the butNaked point? If your life is lived on the defensive you will only be pushed back into your enemy’s end zone. Living life in the defensive is living life as if pain is inevitable. In perfect human fashion, you develop defense mechanisms that cause you to try and be as safe as possible so as to avoid pain; which is virtually impossible and boring as all get out.

Relationships have always been the weakest area of my life. I have been left, abandoned, neglected and jilted my entire life. I’m sure that I am not innocent in the cause of all of my relational demise. However, spiritual family, blood nor marriage has been able to protect me from this pain. But if I try to spend the rest of my life avoiding relational pain, I will find myself alone, which is more pain than anyone should ever bear. The results of this kind of consistent heartache is the reason why people develop defense mechanisms – which are never truly effective. Defense mechanisms are put in play because the heart wants to protect itself from being in pain. But this never works because if you are going to have deep life lasting relationships pain is inevitable. And if you don’t want deep relationships, loneliness is your doom. I agree with Nat King Cole. “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Conversely, truth is, the Lord never promised that bad things wouldn’t happen to good people. Even God’s own Son could not escape undeserved pain. Jesus could have defended Himself throughout the whole process of the crucifixion by turning them into dust with the wink of his eye. Instead, He leaned into the torture and begged humanity to torment him to death. When He accomplished this, He wasn’t only showing us how to deal with pain, He was also providing a guarantee for us to conquer every challenge that life will ever bring. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, He was teaching us the true value that is gained through pain. The most precious purpose of pain happens when our pain is leveraged so that others can profit from it the SAME WAY that we benefit from Christ’s crucifixion. Yep! He didn’t only come to die in our stead. He died to show us how to die.

So let’s stop playing not to lose, that’s a very dull existence. Sure, it’ll get too close for comfort sometimes, but you will never know the true benefits of love unless there’s a risk of hurt. Don’t let your mistakes, or someone else’s, put you on the defensive. Play offense with your life. Points Win Games! Not playing not to lose.

Points are won not only by simply forgiving those who hurt you. We must influence others to overcome their own pain by pushing them to the feet of Jesus the same way your pain drove you there - there’s nothing more noble. For we exist to help bring expansion to the Kingdom of God through winning souls and making disciples. One of the most powerful ways to achieve this life goal is to allow our pain to be leverage thru a portal for someone else’s introduction to Christ. In doing so, we accomplish God’s dream for our lives – Christlikeness. Therefore pain becomes the perfect alibi to the failure of dreams. Instead, we must with reckless abandon, regardless of past hurt, love God and love His people. This is the best way for them to understand who Christ really was.  Don’t worry about your heart. That’s Christ’s responsibility.  You just gotta get butNaked.

I’m Tifiny and iambutNaked…

Tifiny Johnson