Have you ever considered there is a difference between winning and victory? One is the action of achieving. The other is the action achieved. I often ponder these slight distinctions. It is easy to make too much out of them. When we look at states of being, we are confronted with the difference. In sports someone may claim victory before the game is over. But the team is actually only winning. Decisions to turn away from a game by leaving early or tuning it out can leave a person surprised. The infamous Heidi Bowl of November 17th 1968 is a good case of this point. Who would believe the Raiders would get two touchdowns in nine seconds? Their fans did not care. They missed a phenomenal ending to a ball game. Victory was declared too soon.
Success and Winning
A person may brag about how they won an argument. Did they succeed in convincing the other person? Or did they wear their opponent down? In both cases, the hero of the story won. But in only one case can it truly be said the person succeeded. Ask yourselves a simple question about casting votes. What does voting prove? It does not prove a candidate’s character. Voting for a possible solution does not necessarily make that decision right. Emma Goldman, as a character in the film Reds, claimed voting is the opiate of the masses in the United States.
The citizenry of the United States largely believes elections are simply another contest. We are a non-voting nation. The majority of eligible voters do not bother. Reflective people want to know why. Others believe they know the real motivation behind this being unmotivated. All I know is that non-voters do not want to vote. Most people who do not attend church on a given Sunday, do now want to go to church. Where I live people will wear the colors of their college football team and never watch the game. The reason is simple. They do not want to. In all cases, there is some sense of winning or losing. But no one actually succeeds.
Victory or Selection
Voting is simply a matter of selection. The church I serve as Pastor took a vote of the remaining members. The decision was to close the church. We cannot say the vote was right or wrong. It was merely a selection of how people wished to continue to serve God. They decided to not go on as a community. The congregation will disband soon. And our people will do what many other members have already done.
Unfortunately some did approach this issue as winning or losing. It is hard to think how someone picture victory in such a situation. The problem is morality is often tied into how we cast votes. In some cases, I would agree. Yet, there are other cases when it is simply a matter of which fork in the road to take and nothing more. This is complicated in a worldview that says, “we are good while everyone else is evil.” For Christians such a worldview is leagues apart from that of Jesus who had a tax collector and a zealot among his followers.
People who believe “winning is not everything; it is the only thing” are the real losers. They lose the power to listen to the point of view of another. Such people lose the ability to weigh severities. People know all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. But all evils are not the same. One term sin is a theological idea. The other term evil, in the way I have used it, denotes a moral quality. Moral disputes need to begin with “who is harmed?” Theological disputes begin elsewhere. Few people can tell the difference any more.
Winning is nothing if the victory is meaningless. In Baseball, World Series Champions a victorious for about a week. Then the players and managers go right back to business. Superbowl winners of February are one team among many competing in September. These victories are meaningless and therefore morally empty. Everyone knows this.
Victory for the Christian in eternal and forever when we are perfected in the love of God. There is no emptiness in that. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. It is against the spiritual powers behind the flesh and blood human beings before us. The moral worth is not determined by our own forms of mass selection. Neither is it determined by one person or a few telling others what to do. Winning or Victory? We begin by asking who will we harm in order to gain.