Football season, at all levels, is in full swing. From the flag football leagues to the JFL leagues, from the local high school teams to the favorite college teams, to the NFL, crowds of varying sizes gather for football games all across America on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Some sports draw larger crowds than others. It is just the nature of the sports, but is also the nature of Christ-following. Sometimes the “crowd” of our family, friends, an strangers watch as we walk out our relationship with Christ, but most of the time we walk it out in front of just a few of our closest friends and family. Whether it is the football player making a great play to the cheers of hundreds of fans on a Friday night, or the runner gutting out the steep hill in the backside of the cross-country course, athletes make plays. Some are seen and others are unseen.
As you make “plays” as a Christ-follower, some of those actions, behaviors, and attitudes are seen and others hidden in the privacy of your life. But Scripture says that God, who sees everything, even that which is hidden, will reward those who diligently and wholeheartedly seek Him. Play hard, because even if no one else sees, God does not miss a thing His child does, thinks, or feels.
There is a right and wrong way to play the game. Any game. Whether it is monopoly, basketball, football, volleyball, or tic-tac-toe, there is a right and wrong way to play the game. Play hard. Play fair. Demonstrate class and integrity. Persevere though setbacks. Demonstrate sportsmanship. Always play full speed. Give your best. Play with pain. And so on…. Scripture would say, “In every thing we do we should do it as unto the Lord”. Hit them hard, help them up, and then remind them that you will be back next play.
Christ-following is the same way. There is a right way and a wrong way to play the game of Christ-following. Many people who consider themselves to be Christians just simply do not know how to play the game of Christ-following. As with a sport where there should be no space for cheating, or cheap shots, or dirty play, and so on. Nor should there be space for gossip, negative attitudes, doubt, fear, disobedience, spiritual stagnation, selfishness, arrogance, divisive attitudes and actions, apathy, and so on.
When you go to a sporting event, there are certain players that catch your eye; they are just fun to watch, because of how they play their sport. Their heart, enthusiasm, attitude, intensity, and work ethic are contagious and fun to watch. Likewise, there are those who are fun to watch as they follow Christ. Seeing their selflessness, surrender, humility, faith, right attitudes, obedience, courage, perseverance, teamwork, on-going spiritual development, character development, work ethic, and so on, is inspiring.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow Christ”. People are watching. Let’s strive to “play the game” of Christ-following in such as way that those around us are inspired.