If you’re a football fan, you’ve undoubtedly followed the remarkable year that was put together by Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers. Unfortunately, too much media attention focused on “dabbing” and other celebratory dances, motions, and gestures performed by the Panthers quarterback. Some called it an issue of race. Some called it generational. Most all supporting this new breed of professionalism, including his coach, said “It’s Cam having fun and enjoying the game” or “Let Cam be himself.”
But the Panthers loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos last night revealed that there’s a great danger in being yourself.
You might not have seen it, but Cam Newton’s press conference was the antithesis of Cam “enjoying himself.” Sullen, downtrodden, and hiding under his hoodie, Cam answered with one or two word sentences until finally storming out in the midst of fielding questions.
When someone is immature, that immaturity is partially hidden when things are going well but fully exposed when you have lost.
For those that love Cam being Cam when he wins, I present you Cam being Cam when he loses.
It’s not pretty.
That’s because the danger of being yourself for the Christian is that it runs counter to picking up our cross daily and following Christ; we’ve been asked to die to our selves daily and walk in Christ’s humble footsteps.
In Galatians chapter 5, Paul outlines nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, the same fruit that Jesus says in John chapter 15 will identify us as disciples of him. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When we are “ourselves,” we seem to have a lot of these when things are going right and few to none when we’re up against it.
That’s the power of dying to your right to be yourself when you abide in Christ; you get every aspect of the fruit of the Spirit not just the ones come “naturally.” You are supernaturally changed and inhabited by Christ when you remove your self from the equation. That means you’re humble and deferential when you win and, likewise, when you lose.
Yes, you can be happy about one outcome and sad about the other. But neither defines you and neither destroys you.
In the game of life, to live is Christ and to die is gain. The only losers are those who hold on to the right to be themselves for the sake of pride.