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Mention the words, “Dream Team,” and different people may think of different things. My first thought takes me back to my college days when three of my best friends and I referred to ourselves by that description. Though we shared many exploits and experiences together that in our minds merited the “Dream Team” designation, our fame was on a pretty localized level, and we didn’t gain much national exposure.
However, and more than a little ironically, not long after we began referring to ourselves as “The Dream Team,” a movie came out by that same name about four patients in a mental hospital. Many of our other friends thought that was especially funny and that our “Dream Team” had much in common with Hollywood’s version.
Be that as it may, some of my best memories were playing basketball, hanging out and sharing life with those guys.
Then came the 1992 Olympic men’s basketball team, which was arguably the best basketball team ever assembled. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, David Robinson and others enabled this group to live up to their “Dream Team” label. Most of those players have described that experience as one of the best of their basketball careers.
If we are honest, all of us want to be a part of a team – even a “Dream Team,” a group of people that are the best at what they do. I think that explains, at least in part, the popularity of fantasy football. By the time this goes to print, the 2013 NFL season will have gotten under way (hopefully with a Denver Broncos beat-down of the Baltimore Ravens) and with it, the start of another fantasy football season.
This will be the fourth year that my son and I have hosted a fantasy league, and although it might just seem like fun and games to some, it’s a lot of work to do it right. It’s been said that pro football consists of thousands of men who desperately need exercise watching 22 men who desperately need rest, but the world of fantasy football requires much more work to simply be a spectator.
For the uninitiated, fantasy football gives armchair quarterbacks the opportunity to pick their own “Dream Team” – and then compete statistically against others who have done the same thing.
You see, there are currently 32 teams in the NFL, each with 53 players for a surprisingly large total of 1,696 professional football players – the majority of whom no one but the most die-hard football fans can identify.
On the other hand, fantasy leagues generally have only eight to 12 teams with 15 to 20 players each. So, for example, in the league I host, there are 10 teams with 19 players each (plus a defense) on the roster.
So, instead of playing with nearly 1,700 players, most of whom no one has ever heard of, our league only has the best 190 offensive players – so that each team owner has a “Dream Team” of his (or her) own to manage and of which to be a vicarious part.
Further, because most people pick a quarterback from one team, running backs from another and receivers, tight ends, kickers and defenses from still different teams – and your opponent for the week has done the same – fantasy football gives the football enthusiast a reason to cheer (one way or the other) for almost every game.
Now at our house, instead of just watching the Colts game and then moving on to other activities, my son and I are practically forced to watch each and every game. Imagine how excited this makes my wife (and millions of other women) throughout the football season!
For me and my son (and more than 30 million others who will play fantasy football this season), the fun is to see if you were able to pick the “best of the best” to be on your team. Because – whether it is a game at recess in elementary school, a group of friends in college or a fantasy football team – if we’re going to pick a team, we want to pick only the best.
I’m glad that God doesn’t operate the same way. As you read through the Bible, you’ll find that God chose a pretty strange and unlikely bunch to be on his team and be a part of his story. Each of the so-called “heroes of the faith” was men and women with clay feet and fickle hearts, many of whom had pasts that were questionable at best.
Take a look through the Old Testament – Noah got drunk, Jacob was a liar, Sampson was a womanizer, David was an adulterer and a murderer, and Rahab was a prostitute – just to name a few. Yet each of these people was used by God in a powerful way.
Then, when Jesus came on the scene and picked His own “Dream Team” – the 12 people to whom he would one day entrust the whole enterprise – that group wasn’t what you’d normally think of as an “all-star” team either.
Several of them were fisherman, which, generally speaking, wasn’t exactly the cream of the crop in those days. Peter was a loud-mouth who denied Christ in the heat of the moment. Thomas doubted. All of them fell asleep when Jesus had asked them to stay awake and pray with him.
None had ideal résumés for inclusion into God’s inner circle. Only one had a religious pedigree – and his name was Judas.
No, whether taken individually or as a group, Jesus’ disciples didn’t make a stellar lineup. And I’m really glad that they didn’t.
You see, if God had only recruited spiritual superstars – the best of the best – to be a part of his team, that wouldn’t offer me much hope; because like the characters I see described in the Bible, I too have clay feet and a fickle heart (and have fallen asleep while praying!).
When I see that God chose to use imperfect, broken people, it gives me hope that perhaps he could use me, too.
Unlike the 1992 Olympic basketball team or a fantasy football team, God’s team is a “Dream Team,” not because of the quality of the players, but because of the perfection of the coach. Plus, the good news is that the coach is always looking to add members to the team.
In fact, the Bible says that he already has chosen each of us to be on his team and is just waiting for us to accept his invitation.
And lest you think God has chosen us because of some good thing we have done (or might to in the future), Romans chapter 5 tells us, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
That is incredible news: God chose us to be on His team, not because we deserved it, but simply because He loves us. And the news gets even better – as a part of God’s team we are guaranteed to win.
If only the same could be said for my fantasy team.