The football is (thankfully) over. Manchester United are delighted (so is our church trainee. The pastor rather less so). There was lots of silly talk on the TV about fate and destiny. And John Terry is feeling dreadful for missing the clinching penalty.
I can't resist a slightly corny analogy. Terry (and Chelsea) could wake up this morning delighting in all their achievements. They came a good second, they played a good game. They could spend the day enjoying the fact that they are all paid a zillion pounds a week, all have good health and material stuff beyond the dreams of avarice.
But they won't. They won't because however good all that stuff is, it isn't, in the final analysis, what its all about. You can have the stuff and miss the goal. And be the most miserable man in England regardless of how good all your achievements are. All the rest is inconsequential compared with hitting - or missing - the deciscive penalty. The Times reports "John Terry’s bravery has brought him concussion, broken bones and painful wounds, but nothing as painful as the penalty trauma."
The Bible says that we can have achievements in plenty, be good and sincere, be kind and loving, and still miss the goal of a glorious eternity with God. The reason is that we try to take the penalty for rebellion against God ourselves, or try to make ourselves good enough for God by our efforts, and miss the target. If we miss the target - and everyone does - the other stuff just doesn't matter. The achivements and the stuff is no substitute for the goal.
Compare Terry with Ronaldo. Interviewed after the match, having just missed a penalty himself, he said something like "when I missed I knew this was the worst day of my life. But now its the best because someone else got the goal I didn't" (or thereabouts).
The Bible says that Jesus Christ takes (and scores) the penalty that we miss, on our behalf, turning the biggest nightmare of missing out on the glory of God, into the best of days. When it comes to taking the penalty for sin, I want to be in Ronaldo's shoes, not Terry's.