Written by Gary Steffes
John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends
Romans 5:6-7 - For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
2 Corinthians 8:9 - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich”.
John 15:12 - This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
One of the most respected plays in hockey rarely gets public recognition. It wins championships, but will likely never be a top highlight on Sportscenter. It is known amidst the locker room after a game, but will never make the record books. Blocking shots is one of the most courageous acts of love a player can do. When a guy drops to one knee to block a seventy mile and hour slapshot for the sake of the team, love is poured forth in a profound, unique way. Few plays cut to the heart of a team like blocking a shot. When a player will sacrifice his/her body for the team, the team feels the passion and love being expressed through such action.
I still remember a teammate from years past who sacrificed his body for the sake of the team regularly and how it impacted me as his teammate. His name was Tyler Fleck. He had more courage than majority of men I have ever played with. He would routinely drop to both knees in front of snapshots, slapshots, one-timers, etc. eating rubber for the sake of the team. I remember one time we played against the Mississippi River Kings in the old Central League. After Tyler blocked a shot off his chest, he came back to bench screaming like I have never heard a teammate scream during a game. He slammed his stick on the bench ledge wrestling the pain, pushed guys away as he overcame it all in his mind, then stood up, and with one last cry of emotion hopped the boards to get back at it. In that moment, his love and passion for our team overflowed to me. I felt how much Tyler cared about us and the mission we were on to win a championship. As a result, my passion and love spiked to join him. If our captain and leader was sacrificing for me and our team, I wanted to do the same. No chance was he going to stand alone.
Jesus, our Captain and Leader, said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Then, He proceeded to lay His down for all of us while we were yet sinners. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus calls us, as His followers, to do the same. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Jesus says to us as His disciples, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:35. One thing that separates our love from the rest of the world is our readiness to sacrifice for all people, even our enemies. The example our Savior set inspires us to love others the same way.
As hockey players, we represent Christ Jesus when we sacrifice for our teammates. This may be lived out in blocking shots or taking a big hit to make a play, enduring pain, in love, for the sake of the team. It may be lived out by offering your bunk on the bus to a younger teammate, so he can have a bed versus stay on the floor. It may be in you, being a veteran, taking the responsibility to clean the bus and unload bags from a long road trip. It could be in giving your last protein shake to a teammate so they can have their needs met before your own. Whatever the scenario, anytime we give up something we want, or need, to bless someone else, we love like Jesus. We should be the people living with the attitude: “If anyone is going to suffer in this instance, let it be me not them.” This is how Jesus loves us.
Sacrifice is tough. It hurts. It costs. Yet, love makes us willing to sacrifice. Love for our teammates and dreams makes us willing to block scary shots. Love for others makes us willing lay down our lives for them. Such sacrifice then multiplies. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Posted on Wed, March 4, 2015
by Rick Randazzo