Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
As part of my Little League coaching responsibilities, I have to select All-Stars from each opposing team. Over the past two days I have gotten several emails with team rosters and instructions on how to rate and rank each player. Soon we will have a coach’s meeting where we will officially vote on this summer’s All-Star team. The goal is to pick the cream of the crop—the most skilled and most committed players so that we can field a competitive team that will travel around and play the all-star teams of neighboring townships. Some rankings will be simple; other decisions will be more difficult. But even at the young ages of 9 and 10, these kids will be put under the microscope by a handful of coaches as we search for the best.
My daughter’s softball team is a unique bunch this year. The age range of girls are barely 8 all the way up to 11½. That’s a big gap in size and maturity. The gap in terms of their interest in the game is even more expansive. On a team of 14 girls, less than half of them actually want to play the game. Midway through their last game, the girls were asked who wanted to go back into the field to play. About three of them volunteered, several of them said ‘no.’ They were completely content to sit in the dugout. They had no interest in softball. Granted many of them are still young, but for now, they view softball games and practices as nothing more than a chance to socialize. They were signed up by their parents. They just want to draw silly pictures on the dry-erase lineup board and do cartwheels in the grass behind the dugout. Who needs to play defense when they can chase their younger siblings around? The only perk of playing in the field is being able to dig a hole in the infield dirt. And I haven’t even mentioned the distracted chaos that ensued when one of the mother’s brought their puppy near the team dugout. Nevertheless, they’re still on the team. They still wear the jersey. Their names are still on the roster.
I think we can make a connection with the life of a Christian. It is probably an easier connection to make in conversation than in written form, but let’s give it a try. In our baptism, we put on the uniform. By His grace, we are part of God’s team. Our names are written on the lineup card (the book of life). We are part of His church. But truth be told, many of us would rather not play. Many people would rather just stay in the dugout and off the proverbial field. Socialize. Act silly. Goof around. Not show up. Do whatever else they want. Many people are on the team, nominally, but have little to no interest of practicing for the sake of the team. God expects more from us than this. Check it out here. “Take up your cross and follow me,” Jesus says on multiple occasions. He calls us to prioritize being a part of His team over anything, and anyone, else. He wants us to be on the field and in ready position. Ready to play, ready for action. Just as no ball gets passed an engaged shortstop, no witness opportunity gets past a participating disciple. We are on our toes and ready for any chance we have to speak of the hope and strength we have in Jesus.
Here is another way to look at it. Now is a good time to be a fan of baseball in the area. Both of the two New York teams are playing lights-out baseball (#LGM!). They’ve been winning a ton of games and it is easy to get excited about it. It’s even more fun to talk about it with fellow fans. Sports talk radio is flooded with people who want to talk about their favorite local team right now. We are all like that. When we are really excited about something, we like to talk about it. When we find a new show we love, we urge others to binge it. If we have discovered a new favorite place to eat, we tell others to check it out. If we find a good deal on something, we share it with others. Then why is it, that when it comes to something as exciting as Jesus, do we shut up? Shouldn’t something that has changed our lives, something that affects how we live our lives everyday, be something we share with others? It is a sad reality when we talk about our favorite baseball team winning with everyone we know, but when it comes to sharing our faith, we tell no one. After all, we have something way more exciting than a winning team, we have a winning God. We have a God who loves us, and gave everything so that we could experience life eternal with Him.
What do you say church? Are you ready to get in the game? As His church, He wants us to be on the go—teaching, baptizing, discipling. To be sure, God is the coach. He is always the One in charge. And we know that ultimately, in Jesus, we will win the game. We will be victorious. But in the meantime, He expects the members of His team to be doing whatever we can for the sake of saving others. So—swipe on some eye black and put on your glove, it’s time to get out there. It is time to take the field, to be winsome for the sake of the church and growth of His Kingdom!
“I am able to keep everything in perspective, because I know that following Christ is the most important thing in life.” (Mariano Rivera, Yankee HOF pitcher)
Pastor Steve Vera