Keeping Score

Do you keep score? 

This past weekend, I was surprised to pause and consider how much time I have devoted to this nefarious activity.

I kept score as the U.S. Men’s national soccer team went down in defeat in the World Cup to the team from the Netherlands.

I counted the number of times the puck went into OUR net vs. THEIR net at the college hockey game we attended.

And I mournfully watched the numbers add up on the scoreboard on Sunday as my favorite NFL team (the Kansas City Chiefs, in case I haven’t mentioned that before) lost to those aggravating lads from Cincinnati who insist on wearing tiger strips on their helmets.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, I must confess; my tallying doesn’t stop with sporting events. I also found myself counting the number of consecutive daily devotions I’ve done. I kept track of how many times I ran the dishwasher and put away the dishes. I put little mental tick marks on my side of the ledger when I offered Joan a compliment, or put her dishes away, or fetched her a cup of coffee. 

Pathetic. Right?

And for all its “merry and bright” aspects, the Christmas season can also bring out the hidden scorekeeper in all of us. How much did he/she spend on me last year? How much time is it going to take to decorate the house, or bake those cookies, or send those cards? Do we owe the neighbors a courtesy get-together in return for their recent hospitality? 

For all its annoyingness, we somehow still feel the need to keep score. We stubbornly cling to the belief that the ledger can’t get too lopsided… either FOR us or AGAINST us. We follow a somewhat distorted version of the Golden Rule that goes, “Do unto others in roughly the same measure as they have previously done unto you.” 

Because even though ACTUAL debtor’s prisons no longer exist, most of us shudder at the thought of languishing in a relationship debtor’s prison.

Is it any wonder, then, that a lot of people struggle to come to terms with the scorecard that reads: Jesus = EVERYTHING, Humanity = NOTHING

To affect a reconciliation between heaven and earth… between God and humankind, God gave us himself in the human form of Jesus. As if that wasn’t generous enough, Jesus then gave us EVERYTHING, including his life. 

In return for this mind-blowing, history and life changing gift, God required NOTHING from us except for an open hand, ready to receive.

As an American, I recognize that I live in a place where scorekeeping is as deeply embedded in our national DNA as baseball, stock cars, and fried, bacon-wrapped Oreos. And yet, I can’t shake the idea that you and I are meant to discern a message from God’s style of scorekeeping. I believe we are meant to understand the eternal beauty of a badly lopsided scoreboard. We are called to embrace the fact that some scores will never be settled… because they can’t be.  

God’s scorekeeping is supposed to remind us that, “… It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35, NRSV), and that, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NRSV).

And while it is true that God’s brand of scorekeeping might not get you into the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions, it just might get you into something a WHOLE lot better.

Abundant blessings;

2 Responses to “Keeping Score”

  1. December 7, 2022 at 8:06 am

    Thanks, Russell. It takes some change of mind set to start to appreciate… however we keep the score… that losers somehow become winners… and the way we keep score is invalid. I guess that’s part of the Christmas story. It’s a good thought for today!

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