No, I am not prophesying that Croatia will win 🙂
Four years ago, I shared this observation about FIFA World Cup 2014:
“It’s no longer about individual star players in the likes of Neymar and Messi, talented as these are. It’s about teams whose players are virtually unknown but each functioning well in their positions and assignments. The days of spiritual superstars are coming to an end. God is raising up Archippuses, men and women who are almost anonymous yet each known by Him by name. These will be awakened to take to the field, to rout the enemy, to advance the kingdom of God.”
You can read the post “FIFA World Cup 2014: A Wake-Up Call for the Church” here.
This year, the World Cup seemed to follow a similar pattern. Except this time, the focus was not so much on individuals, but nations.
From the start, the traditional household names of football struggled to get through to the next round. When some of these began losing matches, I began noticing this pattern. I had wanted to write something about it, but was unable to owing to a heavy ministry schedule. That worked out well as it allowed me to observe more, to see if the pattern continued.
Germany, the defending champions, didn’t make it past the Group Stage. By the quarter-finals, only France, Uruguay and England remained. Then came the shocker in the semi-finals – Croatia beats England 2-1 to get to their first ever World Cup Final!
I can’t help but wonder if there is a message hidden somewhere within this pattern. Firstly, it is no longer about superstars. And now, a little-known nation makes football history!
Could this be yet another Archippian wake-up call for the Church? It is no longer about the spiritual superstars. The Lord is awakening His saints from the ground up. What’s more, it is also not about brand-name churches! If Archippuses are awakened, aligned and assigned in every congregation, then every church– large or small, mega or micro – will be activated for the purposes of His kingdom. And that’s not all. This principle applies to nations too. In the days ahead, the smaller, the lesser known, and even the unknown nations will feature more and more in God’s plans!
All said, whether nation or churches, it is the saints who know and fulfil their kingdom assignments that make all the difference.
I love this comment in the article “Just 4.2m people, but Croatia makes football history“:
“Croatia’s place in the World Cup is not the natural conclusion of an intelligent, long-term project … It was simply down to the players who did not stop running, even when their bodies were screaming at them to stop, even when they could not catch their breath.”
Perhaps the Church has something to learn from Croatia’s football team. It is not the size of the building, the efficiency of the church staff, the range of programmes and activities, the best sound & lights, the tightness of a worship band, how entertaining the sermons (and preachers) are. It is men and women of God who know their assignments, who run all out for Jesus in their races, “even when their bodies [are] screaming to stop, even when they could not catch their breath.”
Thanks, Croatia, for showing us what it means to press on, to go for gold, to do whatever it takes to win the prize. We wish you the very best as you take on France tonight (11pm, Singapore time).
I will most definitely be cheering you on. Whatever the result, in my heart, you have already won!