George Bowers Sr.: Two cups worth chasing
NASCAR fans are well aware that the Chase is on for The Sprint Cup. This award is the highest honor in NASCAR and is conferred on only one top driver each year. The winner is the MVP, the world champion, and the gold medalist of racing all rolled into one.
Over the last seven months, almost 40 drivers have been competing for one of the 16 slots given the opportunity to win this coveted honor. Throughout 26 races, drivers have earned points for how they placed in each competition. These totals accumulated until Sept. 10, when the final pre-chase race was held at Richmond International Speedway. After that event, the top 16 point leaders were admitted to the equivalent of the playoffs where they are now fiercely contending each week to stay in the chase and remain eligible for the coveted cup.
After every three races, the drivers with the four lowest scores are eliminated and the others advance. Any driver who wins a race automatically continues to the next round regardless of his or her point total. Eventually, only four will be left to duke it out at the final race held at the Homestead in Florida in November.
It seems to be a lot of fuss over a silver cup. After all, a replica can be manufactured with little expense and few could even tell it wasn’t the real thing. Why all the hype and hysteria? Because The Sprint Cup is an honor that only one driver, one owner, and one team can earn each year. Reputation, fame, and honor are all on the line as well as a lot of cash. A healthy purse is awarded the victor and this helps to explain why the competition is so intense.
There’s another cup that is even more valuable that also becomes available each fall, but is often neglected. In the midst of NASCAR, NFL, NCAA, MLB, and all the other sporting competitions, this most precious trophy gets lost in the mix. Although its current owner paid dearly to earn it, he now offers it freely to all who will accept it. This prize is the cup of the Lord’s Supper that Jesus is anxious to share with whoever is willing to join his team. Unlike a shiny trophy, this is not a cup to just sit on a shelf in some protective case, but is for practical use as well as rich symbolism.
Sunday is World Communion Sunday and an opportunity for everyone who claims to be a Christ follower to join his or her brothers and sisters from around the world for a time of holy fellowship and reflection. Not only do we have the high and holy privilege of sharing the shed blood of our Savior in his cup of Holy Communion, but we also get to partake of his broken body through the bread. Although such an event might seem strange to those who don’t know the Savior, for those who have experienced his merciful forgiveness and limitless grace, it is a sweet time to truly commune with the greatest victor of all.
Jesus’ disciples initially competed against each other for top honors in his kingdom, but he assured them that human ambition and selfish promotion were not the ways to his glory. On the contrary, he demonstrated by example that humility and self-effacement are the strategies of real success. Instead of crashing others into the wall of life’s raceway, his followers are to help fellow drivers succeed even at their own expense.
Unlike the NASCAR champ, Jesus can and does share the wealth of his victory with all. His limitless riches of joy and blessing are special benefits that we can all enjoy each day. Even better, the everlasting trophy of eternal life that he purchased with his death and resurrection can be shared by every human being on earth.
While NASCAR drivers fiercely struggle for a Sprint Cup that will eventually tarnish, fade, and pass away, Jesus continues to invite whosoever will to partake of his cup of the New Testament. Make plans to be present at your church this Sunday to share this holy time around his table and remember his sacrificial death until he comes.
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his devotional collection, “Blessings.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.