Trophies have always been the symbol of superiority, accomplishment, and bragging rights. For the NFL, it’s the Vince Lombardi Trophy. For the NHL, it’s the Stanley Cup. For Spain’s soccer championship, the trophy is called the Copa del Rey.
The championship game this year was between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Since this soccer championship began in 1902, Barcelona has won it more times than any other team (25 times). For Real Madrid, it had been 18 years since they last held the Copa del Rey. On this night however, Real Madrid was the better team.
So, finally, after 18 long years, Real Madrid lifted up that sweet trophy of success. Soon the team was parading down the streets on top of a double-decker bus as 60,000 fans cheered and praised the team. However, as the celebration continued, the Copa del Rey slipped out of the hands of one of the players, fell down in the street, and was crushed under the bus.
I can’t imagine the terrible feelings that shivered across the team and the crowd. Many stood in stunned silence. Some may have cried out in horror. But for Christians, if nothing else, this situation should serve as a big reality check. Our world places so much value in useless stuff, like a hunk of shaped and engraved metal for example. But in reality, what eternal value does it have? All it took was one slip of the hand and this valuable trophy was crushed under the “bus of reality.”
Paul spoke of this very concept in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
All material possessions in this life are perishable. It doesn’t matter whether it is the Vince Lombardi Trophy, a science fair ribbon, a Medal of Honor, the Stanley Cup, the Copa del Rey, or an old bowling trophy. Sometimes we need the “bus of reality” to come along and remind us that this life is not about perishable prizes. It is about attaining that imperishable crown. What are we striving for in this life, earthly success or heavenly success? As Paul stated, let’s make sure we are running in such a way that we will win that imperishable crown. The way we do this is by competing on God’s side against sin and for righteousness (Romans 6:12-14; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 12:1-3).