In 1946 the famous college football “game of the century” took place in Bronx Stadium, New York. The two teams were Army and Notre Dame. Each team had several All-Americans on it. Two of Army’s All American players were Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Two of Notre Dame’s All Americans were Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart.
Blanchard was nicknamed Mr. Inside and Davis was nicknamed Mr. Outside. This is because Blanchard ran inside and through the opposing team. Davis was nicknamed Mr. Outside because he ran around and outside the opposing team. The climax in this game came when Blanchard broke loose and was heading for the Notre Dame goal line, with only one Notre Dame player in his way: Lujack. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.
This episode well describes life situations other than football. In the struggles and difficulties of life, we each play a role describable as “inside” and “outside”. The inside role consists of confronting life’s difficulties head-on, plowing straight ahead into the midst of a problem, regardless of the stress, difficulty or hurt, to self or others. The outside role consists of dancing around life’s problems, bypassing them, no matter that deception may be part of this technique, leading to suspicion and mistrust. In either case, “scoring points” may come at such a cost that we can well wonder if the effort, whether outside or inside, is worth it.
Of course, we all wish to win favor, certainly from God, and from others too, if at all possible. To gain favor is to make progress, to move forward. But victory, whether via the outside or the inside way, comes at a price. To get our way all the time because we drive forward in a headstrong way can be hurtful. It may gain us a reputation for being straight-forward and honest, but it may come by way of running over people who don’t enjoy paying the price of being trampled by us. On the other hand, to curry favor with others by dodging and avoiding issues may gain some scores for us, for awhile, but when we overuse this method, others will come to see that we curry favor to our own advantage, and not theirs.
These elaborate reflections are not designed to describe how we perform or operate, and then accept the “chips” whichever way they fall. Rather, though indeed describing how we may perform and operate, they also reveal the flaw in us that we can’t redeem ourselves. We need help, or redemption from outside ourselves. We look to Christ, and note how He encountered adversity and opposition during His lifetime. And we also recall that He ended His life, in death on the cross. But victory was ultimately His, when He rose from the arms of defeat through an overpowering sign that only God could provide.
So we are not left to choose whether to be Mr/Mrs outside or Mr/Mrs inside, since we soon learn that playing the game of life to a scoreless tie is no accomplishment at all, as Paul “Bear” Bryant, coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide team, once said: “playing a tie game is like kissing your sister”. Rather, we play to win, and the only way to do this is to look beyond ourselves to One Who won the greatest victory of all—over death—by His victory of the Resurrection. We need help. We call it redemption. Just as Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside needed the help of ten other players, so too we need all the help we can get.