March Madness is in full swing. Today begins "The Sweet Sixteen." That means that the final 16 teams in the NCAA basketball tournament are playing in order to narrow the field to eight. By Sunday night we will have our "Final Four."
There is an inordinate amount of pressure placed on the backs of young men and women between the ages 18 and 23 as they play this weekend. In both the men and women’s brackets there have already been upsets. Teams that no one expected to be there are trying to take that next step. On the other hand, the favorites are also under pressure as they seek to live up to expectations.
In life, in general, we live under pressure. Some people seem to have a handle on that. Their hair is always in place. They are dressed impeccably. They drive the right cars and live in the right homes. They seem to have it altogether.
Then there are those who look like they’ve been "rode hard and put up wet," as the old saying goes. They are clearly disheveled, obviously rattled and absolutely overwhelmed by the situation at hand.
Sometimes I wonder. Are those who look so calm and collected really so? Or is it possible that ulcers, high blood pressure and heartburn are resting just under the surface? Are they hurting, and yet hiding that fact?
I think I’ve discovered one of the major problems we have in our churches. We believe that we are supposed to have it altogether all the time, and so even if we don’t we try to act as if we do. We think that makes us all the more attractive. In reality people look at us and think they can never live up to the appearances we project. And so many in need look in other places for joy and peace.
Here’s the truth of it all. The church is not a place for those with no needs. Rather it is where we ought to be able to go to find relief and help. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace.
As Jesus said in John 15, "Without me you can do nothing."
Some don’t like that idea at all. It indicates that we are broken without him. Indeed we are. Without Christ you can do nothing of lasting impact.
But Paul said something we all need to hear: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Let’s please quit trying to do it alone, and depend on the one who can help us do all things.