Imagine this. You’re playing THE most important important match of your life on FIFA 14 – let’s say it’s the cup final of a tournament. It’s a derby match too, so there’s even more at stake. City vs United. And you’re playing against your worst enemy.
You started off okay, but before long things go downhill. Really early on in the match you get a player sent off: you thought you’d done nothing wrong at all, but the ref gives you a straight red. Then it happens again. And again. Before half-time you’ve only got eight players left on the field – oh and by the way you’re 5-0 down. Nightmare! You feel like you’ve completely messed it up, that there’s absolutely no way you could win now after what you’ve done! Surely you’ve blown it now: no way back.
But at half-time, while you pause the game to get a can of coke, everything changes. You walk back into the living room and someone else is in the room with you. You start talking to him. He claims to be able to do the impossible, to help you be on the winning side no matter how many red cards you’ve got, or even what score you’re losing by. Come to think of it, you’d heard of this guy before! There’s a book about him that your friend reads, but you never read it yourself: you never thought you’d need his help. Anyway, even though you’re 5-0 down with three men sent off and half the game gone, you stubbornly refuse his help, telling him that if you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna go down with a fight.
The second half kicks off. Almost immediately you concede another goal – in fact, it’s straight from kick-off. 6-0. You throw your controller on the floor in complete and utter frustration. You feel ashamed, humiliated, inadequate. The man who’s still sat on the chair next to you asks again if you’d like his help. Again you stubbornly refuse, and carry on doing it yourself. Before you know it, you’ve conceded a penalty, got your goalie sent off, and, to make matters worse, you’ve played all your substitutes so you have to put an outfield player in goal! That’s it: there’s absolutely no way back now, you think to yourself. I might as well give my controller to this strange man, surely it can’t get any worse! As you do so, he smiles warmly, sits back in his chair, and saves the penalty for you. Okay, good start, you think to yourself, but there’s still a long way to go!
In what seems like an instant, the man has scored a few goals, and you’re winning. YOU’RE WINNING?! Whaaaaat?! In the blink of an eye, your situation’s totally changed. Your shame and inadequacy has gone, and in its place you have an amazing joy that you can’t put into words, which only keeps growing and growing as the match progresses. Then the final whistle blows, and as you watch the crowd and the players celebrating your team’s victory, you can’t help but celebrate too! You’ve won! Your worst enemy is defeated! And as you bask in the glory of your triumph, you realise that actually, the glory should go to the man who won the victory on your behalf. As you sit and think about that even more, it becomes clear that letting this man take control was absolutely the best thing that could have happened to you.
Okay, you can stop imagining now. What if something really similar happened in real life, but on a much bigger scale? What if someone was willing to swap places with you, whatever mistakes you’ve made in the past, and totally turn your life around? What if he gave everything he had to make sure you’re on the winning team when your time is up? And what if all he asks in return is that you believe he’s real, be genuinely sorry for what you’ve done wrong (and try not to make those mistakes again), and let him take control? Surely something so life-changing would be worth looking into?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, The Bible)