Your life mission, the life mission of the Church, is viewed primarily in the context of the life mission of Jesus Christ.
So it’s important to ask the question, “What is your life mission? Do you have one? Do you want one? What difference does it make to have a life mission? How are you living out that mission? Do you accept that mission?
And how does your life mission fit with the life mission of Jesus Christ? What is God’s involvement in your life mission? What difference does it make to have a life mission?
The film, “Remember the Titans,” tells the story of a black man, Herman Boone, coming to be the Head Football Coach in a school that is being integrated for the first time.
The former coach, a white man, Bill Yoast, has been quite successful with the program, enjoying a Hall of Fame career, but he is asked to step aside to allow a black man to assume the helm of the program. He stays on with the team as Assistant Coach.
Black students will be bussed into the school and the team will be a mix of black and white players.
Now, neither Herman Boone nor Bill Yoast grew up thinking that they would be front and center in confronting and overcoming racism and integrating a school. It wasn’t something that either man had an image of happening even a year earlier in their lives. Neither did the school and community in which they coached have an idea that they would be part of history in the way they were. Indeed, everything was fine as it was . . . separate . . . Integration made sense, but not here, not now, some day, somewhere else . . . And although neither Herman Boone nor Bill Yoast anticipated where life would take them, it would take special people like them to accomplish what they did together. And what a mission it was . . . much greater than anything they ever anticipated having!
I don’t think Peter, James, John or any of the disciples expected Jesus to come into their lives. Oh, yes, the scripture mentions a Messiah, even one like Jesus was, and they were awaiting the Messiah, all of their lives up until then . . . and their ancestors expected the Messiah for over 2000 years . . . but for the disciples and most everyone during that day and age . . . not yet . . . not in their lifetimes . . . They had livelihoods to pursue, responsibilities to fulfill, priorities . . . Perhaps this was something someone else would pursue . . . someone more involved with the Temple than they . . . like the priests . . . they were fisherman, laborers, ordinary folk . . . Then Jesus came along and said “Come, follow me.”
There was something compelling about that Jesus . . . something compelling about that call . . . although the disciples didn’t quite know Jesus and they didn’t quite understand the call.
Coach Boone accepts this position knowing that there is going to be resistance to his going forward; resistance from players, parents, students, the community, the school he’s been called to, his coaching staff, opponent teams . . . even from his family. And that resistance is there, even violently so . . . yet Coach Boone accepts this . . . Some of the resistance he doesn’t anticipate . . . referees . . . from within. His going forward is fraught with danger including threats to his family. And Coach Boone sets his face toward his goal with a steely gaze that will not relent, like Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem. He would not fall back despite the realization that ahead him waited his Calvary. This is Coach Boone’s cross to bear.
Jesus, as his call became clear to him, faced opposition . . . opposition within himself and opposition from people around him . . . opposition from Satan who tested him, promising him immediate gratification of his desires . . . opposition from his mother and siblings . . . opposition from the Pharisees, Sadducees, High priests and Romans . . . opposition from his disciples like Peter . . . His own desire for there to be another way. His own disciples will abandon and betray him. Jesus knew what was in store for him if he continued on his path.
The School Board had a glimpse of what was necessary. It’s why they hired Coach Boone. But even they wonder if this effort will succeed. From the beginning doubt is expressed. Coach Yoast remains loyal, even grows in that loyalty, putting his own livelihood and legacy on the line for Coach Boone, but he expresses opposition to Coach Boone at the start, opposition that Coach Boone puts to rest, quite vehemently. Coach Yoast will have to give up his reasonable protest and give Coach Boone his 100% support . . . he needs to pick up his cross and follow Coach Boone . . . or he needs to resign. Coach Boone challenges Coach Yoast to get behind him and get with the program or leave.
And the team has to do so, too, if they are going to become a winning program like they were under Coach Yoast. They need to rid themselves of their racism, anger, and fear . . . not an easy task . . . because there is so much to lose: parental approval, friends, girlfriends, acceptance in their churches and community, and their own sense of personal privilege and power. One boy, in particular can’t do it until the end . . . Racism runs deep. Sin runs deep, because with it comes reward. There’s a payoff. The process of redemption from racism and from sin involves giving up the comforts and rewards that come along with it. Coach Boone would not go way. He would not surrender his principals. He would not compromise his methods. He was preparing his team for the rigors ahead, to succeed on the field and in life. And here’s the amazing thing . . . Coach Yoast went with him . . . some of the assistant coaches didn’t . . . and the team went with him . . . all but one player.
This brings us back to you . . . to your mission . . . to what that mission has to do with Christ’s mission. And do you know Christ’s mission and your mission is one and the same . . . the establishment of the rule of God’s love and peace with justice upon the earth. Oh, there is resistance to that . . . but the rule of God’s love and peace with justice is established in the world as it is established in you . . . as you pick up your cross and carry it . . .
And what do you carry your cross for? What did Jesus carry his cross for? To die upon! Now you understand the resistance! Are you ready to die for Jesus?
Coach Boone’s players were ready to die for Coach Boone! And they did die for him! And dying for him they found life like they never experienced it before. What died? Their previous racist identity! Their anger, their hate, and their fear! Their identity with the color of their skin! Their separation from God, from truth, from love, from their neighbor, from their brothers and sisters in Christ! Now they were a team and their hometown a community. Now they were in love with life instead of in hate with it! Indeed they were identified with Coach Boone, his vision and hope for life, his mission, his passion, his love, his way of living and being. Indeed they were like Coach Boone!
The early disciples of Jesus carried their crosses and followed Jesus, dying on their crosses . . . losing their doubt and fear in the process . . . overcoming their limiting beliefs and taking on the new and empowering belief of Jesus . . . loving Canaanites, Samaritans, Romans, and sinners like Jesus did . . . risking the disdain of the establishment believers; the Pharisees, Sadducees, and High Priests . . . being loving . . . being righteous . . . doing what is right.
Hey, you might fail . . . Pick up your cross and follow in the way of Jesus anyways . . . Hey, your family and friends might think you’re out of mind . . . Pick up your cross and follow in the way of Jesus anyways . . . Hey , people may think you are wrong . . . Pick up your cross and follow in the way of Jesus anyways . . . In picking up your cross and following in the way of Jesus, your worldly you is going to die . . . But the you who you really are, the expression of the Living God that is in and all around you is going to live . . . This is your reward! This is God’s glory! The rule of God is here, now established in your life and mine!
This journey we don’t make alone, because the journey is God’s journey and thus all of journey. For one to be missing, then God is missing an essential part . . . It’s a journey in which we discover who and what God as we discover who and what we are.