A Selfless Act

With 3 minutes and 25 seconds left remaining in the championship basketball game of the men’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament this past Sunday afternoon, 18 year old Kristi Yamaoka, a cheerleader for the Salukis of SIUC, fell from 15 feet high up hard to the floor, landing on her head while performing a routine.  In taking her tumble, she suffered a concussion and a broken neck.  14,000 worried basketball fans were silent in the arena as the medics attended to her, and countless other fans held their breath in anticipation as they watched the game on television.  But as she was carted away for a precautionary exam at the hospital, Ms. Yamaoka gave a two-handed thumbs up from the gurney, moving her arms – the only things not strapped down – in time to the music and cheered as the pep band fired up SIUC's fight song, Go Southern Go.  Her unselfish efforts elicited a standing ovation from the appreciative Savvis Center crowd, and it sparked much conversation and commentary on many national sports TV programs.  When asked from her hospital bed about her cheering after sustaining such a dangerous fall, Ms. Yamaoka replied, "As long as my arms were functioning, I could do the fight song.  I just knew that it would be a little easier for my team and squad to concentrate if they knew I was OK and not worrying about me," she said.  "I didn't want the team to get distracted.  I needed them to win for me."  Kristi Yamaoka’s remarks undoubtedly displayed the highest of selfless motives.  In our 21st century world, unfortunately, the struggles and failures so many people experience have as their root nothing other than their own selfishness.

Jesus Christ, the greatest example ever of unselfishness, set the agenda for His apostles and for us today when, in spite of His upcoming betrayal, condemnation, mocking, scourging, and cruel death at the hands of sinful men, Jesus announced to His disciples and to the world, "We are going up to Jerusalem," in Mark 10:33.

Having heard this agenda, James and John made a request to be allowed to sit on either side of Jesus in His glory.  The clashing of selflessness vs. selfishness occurred as they shifted the focus from Christ's ultimate sacrifice to seek and save the lost to their desired positions of honor, emanating from hearts that were egotistic.  This blatant, self-centered request affected the disciples as a group, who displayed their own self-centeredness when they became "indignant with James and John" (Mark 10:41).  Jesus had to call them together to calm them down and redirect their thoughts.  As James wrote in James 4:1, "What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"  Choose to focus on the kingdom of Christ’s agenda, which is to serve others.  Take the focus off of yourself.  Try to put others before yourself.  Learn to live for others.  To paraphrase Kristi Yamaoka, "Your team doesn’t need to be distracted."

May God bless you!

David Ferguson