Twelve individual championships!
No, try the venerable annual Fourth of July Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contest!
In the background of this year’s televised competition was a video teaser trumpeting the accomplishments of the current reigning champion, Joey Chestnut, in the same rarefied air as other athletes like Rafael Nadal and Bill Russell. Less than an hour later, Chestnut had won his 12th championship, eating 71 Nathan hot dogs and buns in an astounding 10 minutes!
It was all in mock seriousness but other sports fans took offense at mentioning Chestnut, a competitive eater, in the same category as other athletes in “true” sports like tennis and basketball. Despite the fact that Chestnut and other competitive eaters diligently train to become champions, for some, it did not impart the same level of credibility or legitimacy as other sports athletes.
When the topics of talents and skills are discussed, a lively debate is certain to follow. For some, unless it fits into their preconceived notions, it is not legitimate. The Jewish leaders who listened to the teachings of Jesus Christ embodied this prejudice.
About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”
John 7:14-16 (ESV)
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the greatest teacher who ever lived. The Jewish leaders who listened to Him could only marvel at the wisdom of this Man who did not quote other Rabbis but spoke with His own authority. How could He do this? He did not train at the established rabbinical schools nor did any Rabbi claim to be His teacher. He had not produced a collection of published writings. How could He? Wasn’t He simply an illiterate son of a carpenter? Yet everything Jesus said and spoke confirmed a supreme knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures and God’s Word. He brought forth new interpretations and applications of God’s Word and challenged the status quo of religious life. His talents and skills were different from any other religious leader of the day.
There may be a continuing debate about the legitimacy of competitive eating as a sport, but let us never be so quick to dismiss someone’s skills or talents because it does not fit into our preconceived notions.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.