So Wales have got through to the quarter finals of the Euros!! I had the pleasure to witness Wales’ first tournament game in 58 years when they played Slovakia in Bordeaux. A win for Wales followed, 2-1, with goals from Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu. Although we lost to England, we finished top of the group with an incredible 3-0 win against Russia! Now we’ve beaten Northern Ireland and in the quarter finals!
Thankfully I was there to watch my country perform so well during qualifying and then take such form into their first tournament in 58 years. Though many would argue Wales are a one man team centred around Gareth Bale (who scores the majority of our goals), I think this is wrong and ignores the contribution from the rest of the team. The win against Russia was a prime example with three different scorers, Aaron Ramsey, Neil Taylor and Gareth Bale.
I know I’m biased but Wales have a great team and work ethic on the pitch. But the team also have a great relationship with the fans. Throughout the qualifying and group stages Wales have adopted a slogan of “Together Stronger” which perfectly summarises the Welsh team, staff and fans.
But this isn’t a slogan that is just about the Welsh football team. Reflecting on the phrase I also thought it relates well to our global church family. As Christians we’re connected, and though we might live thousands of miles away from each other, we are still united through our faith in Jesus. And when we’re together, we are stronger.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul makes this point beautifully. He says the church is like a body – made up of many parts. None of us individually makes up the whole thing – in fact, on our own we’d just be relatively insignificant (even if we were as talented as Gareth Bale). But together, we’re more than the sum of our parts – we’re something special. Together, we’re stronger.
The same is true for our local and global church families. Together we’re stronger. When we commit and get involved in the church communities that we are a part of in our towns and cities, we make the body stronger. When we realise we are part of a global family, and many of our brothers and sisters face trial, struggle and persecution for their choice to follow Jesus, we are stronger. When we choose to pray, to speak out against injustice and do what we can to support our global family, we are stronger.
We can’t follow Jesus on our own. Christianity isn’t about being a one man team. It’s about community, mucking in, standing together, being shaped, inspired and pushed forward by others. It’s about realising we don’t have all the answers ourselves and that we need others to show us more of Jesus. It’s about realising that together, we are stronger.