The other day I went into Starbucks to grab a cup of coffee and I must admit that I looked like a 12-year-old San Francisco Giants bat-boy. I was wearing my weathered hat along with my still-crisp World Champions shirt and to be honest one more time, this was no coincidence. I have loved this team since I was young and this has been my first chance to brag on ultimate victory so there may be a whole lot of regressed childhood in my wardrobe right now. You can sort that out later, for now I want to tell you about a conversation I had with the guy behind the counter, the barista for those living under a rock for the past couple decades.
The barista saw me coming and was reminded that his team was tragically not the World Champions. Sad, right? In his regret for not being a Giants fan, he lashed out at the great victory I owned.
“Man, why do you have to go around bragging?”
My barista was asking a fair question and I am sure he would have been asking it with a bit more seriousness had he known he whole story. He did not know that just a couple of weeks ago, clad in the same attire, I watched the World Series highlights video front to back. How would our young ace Tim Lincecum handle his shaky start against the most talked-about pitcher in the history of the game? How would Cody Ross, our hero from the earlier playoff rounds, fare when the stakes were raised? How would a twenty-one year old country boy from North Carolina pitch against the best offense in baseball?
Now of course, I knew the answers to all these questions. Lincecum would settle in. Ross would carry the team offensively and defensively until another unlikely hero would emerge. Madison Bumgarder, the boy wonder from the woods, would pitch eight shutout innings and defeat the mighty Texas Rangers. I knew the outcome for certain and on top of that I already knew who would step up when it mattered most. I was watching the highlights for the same reason I dress like a crazy person. I was reveling in victory.
I still cannot get over bragging on my team, relishing the victory and swaggering around, feeling sorry for fans of the other twenty-nine teams but do you know what is strange about my victory? I did absolutely nothing to help out. Nobody called on my opinions, gifts or finely-honed skills to win the games. The title was won completely outside of my realm of influence.
So what right do I have to brag? Every right.
Maybe my position will make more sense with a spiritual illustration. You see, I cannot speak for you, but nobody asked me if it would be a good idea for God to take on manhood and live perfectly in my place. This was handled outside my realm of influence. Nobody called on my skills to produce the death of Christ, although we all had a hand in it. The death of Jesus, the one that stands as the death of my requirement to please God, was taken care of completely outside my realm of influence.
And I might have missed the call on my phone but I am almost positive that nobody called to consult on the resurrection of Jesus. Nobody asked to employ my powers in raising God from the dead. In the same way, nobody asked me if it was a good idea for Jesus to come back a second time and bring about a new kind of history. Nope. The work of Jesus was done outside of my control- so I have no right to boast and brag about what Jesus has done, right?
The call of the gospel is to boast in God. When was the last time you felt an obligation to revel in the victory Jesus bought you? Did you know that our job as believers is to enjoy the sweet smell of success? Is this not what Paul meant at the beginning of his letter to the church at Corinth when he told them: let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord? This is not a concession like, “if you’re going to brag you may as well brag about God.” No. This is a command. Let your boast be in Jesus. Revel in the victory Jesus won.
What if we went around wearing the victory of Jesus on our sleeve? I am not talking about wearing clothing with a Christian catch-phrase, I am talking about in our heart-of-hearts. What if we woke up every day and asked God for the power to brag on what our older brother accomplished? Would our lives look any different? I submit they would. For one, we would quit thinking we had to win over the love of our Father. We would count that as finished in Jesus.
And, not to sound overly spiritual because it is early in the week, but we have something that is worlds better than a highlights video. We have God speaking to us in his word day by day. He not only reminds us that he has won the victory but God proclaims us the winners. That is the gospel. Not just that Jesus won but that his victory has become our victory.
Do you know what Jesus is doing right now for you? He is praying for you. He sits next to his Father and they remind one another that you are theirs. Of course, God would remember one way or another (do you remember the huge books in Revelation?) who he loves but it gives him pleasure to speak your freedom and victory back to himself. He is bragging on himself before the highest authority- himself- “that one- he’s mine.” “Her? My victory is her victory.”
What if we focused on Paul’s little command today and set out to brag on the victory Christ has given us? What if our conversations with each other were revolving around reminding ourselves of this victory? This is why he has given us community, to remind one another: to be strong when the other is weak; to be weak and hear the strength of a brother or sister.
You have not only a right but a command to go and brag on our God. He can help you do this if you ask him.
Quit wallowing in your failure and start reveling in his victory, which is now yours in Christ.
For some simple and freeing words, check out Heidelberg Catechism question 60:
60. Q. How are you righteous before God?
A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, have never kept any of them, and am still inclined to all evil, yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, if only I accept this gift with a believing heart.
 Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 3:8-11.  Rom. 3:9, 10.  Rom. 7:23.  Deut. 9:6; Ezek. 36:22; Tit. 3:4, 5.  Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8.  Rom. 4:3-5; II Cor. 5:17-19; I John 2:1, 2.  Rom. 4:24, 25; II Cor. 5:21.  John 3:18; Acts 16:30, 31; Rom. 3:22.