In the fifth minute of the second overtime, the Montreal Canadiens Defender P.K. Subban scored the game-winning goal. The Canadiens regular season matchup against the Boston Bruins was a memorable one. But it was not Subban’s skills for his team that garnered the most attention. It was the ensuing racist comments from some disappointed Bruins fans.
A couple years later, much to the surprise of Canadiens and hockey fans, Subban was traded to the Nashville Predators. The reason as to why he was traded remains a mystery.
In a world of individualism and race baiting, there is temptation to be drawn into the culture’s narrative and quickly defend ourselves. P.K., however, refused to succumb to the temptation. When asked about the racist comments, he responded,
“What people may say on Twitter or social media is not a reflection by any means of the league or the Boston Bruins. So whoever that is, they’ll get dealt with, but it’s completely separate from this league or the Boston Bruins organization… It’s unfortunate when things take away from the great hockey that was played…”
When asked about his trade to the Nashville Predators, he said,
“I’ve always felt wanted by the fans and the community there. On the business side of things, the Montreal Canadiens paid me a lot of money two years ago to do what I do for a living and at end of the day, I just wanted to come in and do my job.”
And when discussing his race with ESPN’s E:60 series, he essentially said that his race was not of first importance. He wants to be known as a great hockey player. He did not ignore his race and did not expect anyone else to. His race, though important to his identity, was secondary to his mission to be the greatest hockey player ever.
On Mission With Goal In View
Subban is clearly on mission as a hockey player. Despite being a part of the small minority of black NHL players (around 5%) he has a distinct goal. He is currently participating on the NHL’s biggest stage, The Stanley Cup Finals, and he is not distracted by the scripts everyone else wants to write for him. He is following a predetermined narrative, even if the story takes an unexpected or unwanted turn.
Like Subban, Christians should be on mission and just as focused. We are also a part of a predetermined narrative, and ours is more epic. We are created to glorify God by enjoying him and reflecting his character on others so they may be drawn to him (Matthew 5:16).
Our Mission Is Worship
We seek the good of our communities. We proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18–20). We work to destroy divisions (Ephesians 2:11–14). We sacrifice for our families, submit to authority, and strive to do good work (Ephesians 5:22–6:4; Romans 13:1–2; Thessalonians 3:12–13). We call out injustices and reach out to draw in the marginalized (James 1:27). We confess our sins, pick up our crosses, and tread on, trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Luke 9:23). We participate in these actions as a mandate to worship. Or as John Piper says, “Worship is the fuel and the goal of missions.” Worship is our mission.
Temptations To Compromise The Mission
We are minorities when we are on mission. We will not look or sound like the culture. Society is obsessed with individualism and building personal kingdoms. A society without God only has hope in this world so they must cling to it. Christians, however, sacrifice and do things that seem extreme. We give up more than we have to. We pass on job opportunities to give more time. We risk comfort in friendships when we share the gospel message.
But even in our religion we can be tempted to mimick the culture and abandon the mission of worship. When the growth of our little Christian empires–college and high school, marriage and singles, men and women’s, youth and small group ministries–become our ultimate goal, we compromise the mission. We exchange the truth about God for perceived success. Seeking relevance over faithfulness to God and his word robs our mission of gospel power.
Faithfulness to God and his word compels us to move forward in our mission to create culture and proclaim the excellencies of God and call people to faith in Jesus (1 Peter 2:9). It is unfortunate when professing Christians take away from the mission by ignoring–or sometimes adding to–issues of division. These conflicts need to be addressed. But they cannot take away from our mission either. Addressing offenses and scandals are a part of the mission of worship. We speak the truth in love. The hope in view is repentance to, faith in, and worship of Jesus.
Like P.K. we must press on. It is good to remain aware of the temptation to put our Bibles down to follow the culture’s script. Whether mocked or praised, or introducing 1 or 100 people to Jesus, continue worshipping. It is our mission. And it will cost us everything. But the price is invaluable–God with us for eternity.