Today’s Scripture: Romans 5:12-21
By: Joe Eastham
When I was a young man, my father took me to see the Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Generals. I made a few astute observations (for a 12-year-old) during the game. First, I couldn’t name a single player on the Washington Generals. Of course, I knew Globetrotter players like Meadowlark Lemon, B.J. Mason, Herbert “Geese” Ausbie, and Curly Neal because they were on Scooby-Doo. Second, I couldn’t figure out why the Washington Generals kept playing them. Out of 13,000 games, the Globetrotters only lost once, and it wasn’t to the Generals. Third, there wasn’t a Washington Generals fan in the crowd. Really! Not a single fan. At the very least, I would have thought that their wives would have showed-up to support them.
So, what does this trip down memory lane have to do with Romans 5? It reminded me of a sermon that I heard about the same time as this game. The pastor talked about choosing a winning team. He compared Jesus and Adam to sports teams that we can chose to play-on. The choice seemed obvious to me. I wanted to play for the Globetrotters. According to Paul, Jesus seemed to be the right team to choose.
As I’ve grown older, I don’t believe that a “sports fan” analogy is the best way to understand this passage. I don’t think Paul was talking about being part of a “winning team.” This is about identity at the core of our being. Outside of a relationship with Jesus, our identity is linked to Adam. We, like Adam, have sinned, and death has spread to all of us. Our works have brought condemnation. But Jesus offers a new identity and a way out of darkness and death. His works bring life. May our identity be rooted in Jesus, not ourselves.