The Year of the Underdog

For the fan of the underdog, this Wimbledon has been a veritable feast. Top seeds have been tumbling – both literally and at the hands of other players – on a daily basis. We’ve seen Nadal knocked out by Steve Darcis, Hewitt defeated by Dustin Brown, Maria Sharapova falling to world number 131 Michelle Larcher de Brito, and then to cap it all on Wednesday night the reigning champion, Roger Federer was stunned by the world 116 Sergiy Stakhovsjy. There’s also been an unusually long list of top players injured and having to pull out. What a crazy opening few days it has been. The biggest surprise is that Djokovic and Murray have made it through the first week (at least I hope they have, this is a statement of faith made on Thursday morning, but to be honest by the time you read this all could have changed!…)

The English love underdogs, and so it seems fitting that this should happen on our soil. Why do we? Perhaps because so often in sport we are the underdogs as a nation. As someone who grew up in the 70s and 80s when English cricket was simply a pseudonym for a batting collapse and too many occasions snatching defeat out of the hands of victory, having a national side who are in the top ranking in the world just feels wrong!

There is something of God in this love of the underdog. The Bible frequently describes him as being on the side of the poor and oppressed, and acting to turn the tables on those who stand over them. The phrase ‘The first shall be last and the last shall be first’ is a particularly provocative and memorable soundbite uttered by Jesus, the master wordsmith. What does this mean? Does this mean that God prefers the poor to the rich, the oppressed to the powerful, or the slaves to the free? Surely not! God loves all equally, that’s the scandalous message of the Gospel. Why is that scandalous? Think about how that differs from how as a culture we tend to treat and see people. What it does mean, though, is that God uses different standards to measure us by than we do. So often it is the rich, powerful and beautiful who get to define what success and importance is – it is no surprise then that those unlike them don’t get a look in. God however, looks to the heart and acts to give everybody fair opportunity. How about us? We might love an underdog, but do we see and more importantly treat people in the same way that God does?

Church Newsletter – Sunday 30th June 2013