Welcome to the first edition of 'The Penalty Kill' - a weekly devotion for hockey players. My hope for this devotion is to take concepts from the sport of hockey and relate them to the Gospel to renew the hockey player's mind so we might not be conformed to the pattern of this age. Please pass this on to anyone who might be interested. Comments and discussion are highly encouraged!
Luke 9:23 - Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Luke 22:63 – Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him.
Isaiah 53:7 – He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
Luke 23:34 - But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Crosschecking is defined as hitting an opponent with the shaft of the hockey stick, while holding it with both hands - punishable by a minor penalty or major penalty, depending on the severity of the infraction. Perhaps few penalties in hockey have the ability to get under players skin like the crosscheck – especially in front of the net or in the corner. Little jabs on the hip, just above the breezers (hockey pants), or pushing the breezers down can infuriate the recipient.
The common reaction in hockey is to retaliate or make sure you know who did it, you take their number, so you can get them back later in the game. There is a culture in hockey that says ‘I can’t appear soft, I have to get back at them, I must get vengeance’.
But this is very different than how Jesus calls us to act (or react). We are not to repay evil for evil (Romans 12:17), we are to bless those who persecute us, to bless and not curse (Romans 12:14), and to never take our own vengeance but to leave room for the wrath of God (Romans 12:19). Jesus modeled this the day He was crucified, and as His disciples, we’re called to set aside our selfish notions to seek vengeance and persecute – to pick up our cross – and to bless those who persecute us. Can it be done?
Hockey is a fast pace, emotional sport where it seems easy at times to lose perspective. And yet, in the grand scheme of things, a hockey game is very unimportant. If we cannot be faithful in these little things, how will we be faithful in big things? (Luke 16:10 - He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much).
The crosscheck in hockey certainly isn’t the only thing that can make people’s blood boil. There are things in every sport, and in life in general. It can be as small as getting cut off in traffic (many times vengeance is with a lone finger or four letter word, or both), or it can be major such as a betrayal by a close friend or family member. You will not find an offense worse than what was committed against Jesus though – of which we are all guilty (James 2:10 - For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all). And the parable of the wicked servant (Matt 18:21-35) tells us that no one will commit a sin against you that is greater than what you yourself have committed against Jesus. So, Brothers and Sisters, will you be like the wicked servant and demand repayment for the very small wrong done to you, when you have been forgiven a Great Debt? Or will you leave vengeance to the Lord, love your enemy, and pick up your cross and deny yourself? How will you react when you get CrossChecked?
For more teachings on Loving and forgiving our neighbors, check out: Luke 10:25-37, Luke 17:3-4, Romans 12
Posted on Tue, October 30, 2012
by Todd Lohstreter filed under