I love sports. To me, sports are both a guide through and a microcosm of life. No voluntary activity has made more of an impact on my life than playing sports, and nothing has better prepared me for life’s trials than my time on the court or field. Sports teach self-discipline, accountability, and how to cope with disappointment and success. Even more so, playing on a team teaches self-sacrificial love similar to the type that Christ models for us all. It is one of the few places in our society where you learn to put the welfare of your brothers and sisters above your own for the sake of a greater purpose.
It is telling that Jesus refers to others in this way. Brotherhood and sisterhood are truly special bonds that transcend many of the challenges and squabbles that can destroy other types of relationships. It seems that calling someone your brother or sister is offering the highest form of companion love found outside a romantic or parental relationship.
So, stories such as this one are both heart-warming and relatable. At the World Triathlon Series Race in Cozumel, Mexico on Sunday, an all-too-familiar scene began to unfold. Alone in the lead, Jonny Brownlee hit his limit just a few feet from the finish line. He slowed to a walk, wobbled on his feet, and fell to his knees. A few seconds later, two competitors caught a now-floundering Jonny, and while one raced on, the other decided to re-write Jonny’s sealed fate. That racer gave up his chance to win, helped Jonny to his feet, and assisted him across the finish line. That Good Samaritan was none other than Jonny’s brother, Alistair.
We all like to place ourselves in Alistair’s shoes and imagine that we too would do the right thing. Maybe, we even have someone in mind that’s fallen just before the finish line, and our hearts swell with love at the thought of helping that person on his or her journey. And, before we smile to ourselves, take our encouragement, and continue with the rest of our day, I want to point out what Alistair said about his kind deed.
“If anyone was in that position I would have helped them across the finish line to get medical help as quickly as possible.”
That changes things a bit, doesn’t it? Suddenly, this isn’t someone donning his cape and playing the hero, but a self-aware citizen of humanity. While something as obvious and agonizing as a competitor overheating before he finishes a race has a very clear course of action to remedy the problem, how many others in need do we come across that we pass by? In our lives, are we like the Good Samaritan when we see someone left for dead on the side of the road, or like the priest or Levite, do we pass by on the other side? When we are not on display for the entire world to see, will we still make the right choice?
Jesus said, “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)
We look at the great act of kindness by Alistair towards his brother and think it is noble and noteworthy, and that is right. But, Jesus challenges each of us to dedicate our lives to those types of acts of service, not only to our brother by blood, but to all our brothers and sisters under God. Let’s take one step towards living that life. It doesn’t have to be Earth-shattering in scale, but try to spread God’s love by doing one small thing to help someone in need today.