When the whistle blew at the end of regulation in Game 7 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, the 15 members of the winning team were rewarded with the most coveted trophy in basketball, the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy. In that moment, those 15 basketball players were pronounced the best on the planet.
That trophy and that status as champions set them apart from all other professional basketball players for one simple reason: a driving passion to win. They won, not only because of their talent and strategies, but most importantly because they prepared in the offseason, when no one was watching. Every player on that roster wanted that trophy more than anything, and each was eventually rewarded for all the world to see.
What do you want more than anything? What is your driving motivation — the thing that motivates you to get up every morning, or pushes you to study for your History of Civ test when that’s the last thing you want to do, or guides you in your career choices?
Instead of explaining what passion is, I’d rather give another example, to illustrate what exactly can happen when people are so passionate about something that it changes everything about them.
Consider the passion and extreme motivation of the student protesters in Venezuela. As a missionary kid who lived in Venezuela for 13 years, I have been paying close attention to the unrest that has ravaged the country in the past few weeks. On Feb. 12, National Youth Day in Venezuela, thousands of students in several major cities across the country marched in peaceful protest against the increasingly corrupt socialist Venezuelan government led by Nicolas Maduro.
The government responded swiftly and violently, injuring hundreds and killing several. Many Venezuelan cities now resemble war zones, and the government is even suppressing coverage of the events on television and social media. Government violence against any opposition has reached its highest levels, with armed gangs roaming the streets and more and more arrests being made every day.
But students continue to protest, and they are gaining the support of more of the population of their country, as well as supporters around the world who recognize the gravity of the situation. They refuse to give up because they are motivated by a passion to see a better Venezuela.
While these two examples may appear to be completely unrelated, they do share one very important characteristic: the goals they strive for are ultimately temporary. They are both passionate about momentary objectives and working tirelessly for goals that will one day cease to matter. As hard as they work and sweat for them, the Larry O’Brien Trophy and a free Venezuela will all one day fade away.
The author of Hebrews wrote of the ultimate goal when he spoke of “run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” We Christians have more reason than anybody to pursue everything we do with passion and perseverance. If LeBron James can work tirelessly for a basketball trophy, if Venezuelan students can risk their lives for political freedom, how much more should we as Christians pursue God’s glory with absolutely everything we have? We are to do everything for God’s glory, whether it’s playing society soccer, writing an English 102 paper, or teaching Sunday school on a weekly outreach.
At the end of the day, our motivation as Christians is fundamentally different from that of the world. Our passion to look unto Jesus should change us much more than a basketball trophy or political freedom ever could. We are chasing a prize that will never fade away or cease to matter — we chase the eternal glory of God.