Against All Odds

 Image from @numberfire

Image from @numberfire

     Yesterday was one of the most memorable Super Bowl games of my lifetime. If you're not a sports fan, I apologize. I will talk a bit about the game and then move on to the point quickly. 
After a slow start, the Atlanta Falcons took what most of us thought was an insurmountable lead going into halftime. I remember asking someone in the room, "How many points do you need to feel comfortable against Tom Brady and the Patriots." The answer, presciently enough, was, "more than this." As those of us who continued watching learned, the New England Patriots hadn't given up yet. After giving up one more touchdown to the Falcons, Brady and company stormed back with 25 unanswered points and forced the game into overtime.

     Before the Patriots went on their scoring tear, numberFire had the win probability for the Falcons at 97.62%. That staggeringly high number describes the sheer weight of history against the Patriots. Out of other football games that had similar scoring margins, less than 3 percent of games finished with the trailing team winning. Add in the weight of the Super Bowl stage and we can get a feel for just how enormous this comeback was. Against the odds, the Patriots are the champions of Super Bowl LI.

   Pastor Tommy has been preaching on the importance of personal outreach and inviting the unchurched to be a part of what is happening here at Lamar. Sometimes our internal monologue when he does can sound like this: 'I can't invite them, what if they say no? What if they're offended and I damage our friendship?' While these thoughts are completely understandable, the truth is that our friends and family value us more when we are open and honest about the things we are passionate about. Even if the odds are stacked against us, shouldn't we be sharing and inviting our friends, colleagues, co-workers, and neighbors? If our relationship with Christ is genuinely important to us, the natural progression from that relationship is to share our faith.

     A study performed by LifeWay Research revealed some interesting statistics about personal outreach.

  • 67% of Americans responded that a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans say a personal invitation from a friends or neighbor would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a family member.
  • 56% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a friend or neighbor.

     In one of the biggest games of their lives, the players for the New England Patriots looked at long odds and got to work. They beat the odds to become the champions and that can never be taken away from them. We as believers have a burden to share the gospel against whatever odds may be against us. Jesus said in Mark 16:15-16 "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

     As our small groups launch here at Lamar, let's use this opportunity to reach out to our neighbors, family, former church members, co-workers, colleagues, and community. Invite them to come to church, to come to small group, to dinner, or to coffee. Reach out, and let the love of Christ shine through you.

- Josh

Sources: NumberFire
               Christianity Today