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.
God has one glaring problem; He thinks He is God! And of course, He is God, which even makes it worst because as usual He is right… again. In Exodus 20:3 God makes His intention crystal clear, ”You shall have no other gods before me.”
Christ-following, at is most basic level, is simply coming to grips with God truly being “God”, with Jesus truly being “Lord”, and with the Holy Spirit truly being the controlling influence of your life.
Even Jesus had to make a choice to surrender to God’s will and purpose for His life. In Philippians 2:5-6 the Bible says that “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped……” What a phrase!!! Even though Jesus was in His very nature “God”, “He did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped”.
Yet as people, who in our very nature are a long, long way from being God, we somehow believe that it is our right and duty to “consider equality with God as something to be grasped”. How? What would you call knowingly, willful disobedience for example? Each time God asks something of us and we choose to not surrender to His will and purpose are we not in fact making our opinion, and our will equal to His?
As people, we have learned to blame such disobedient behavior on things such as fear, our comfort zone, procrastination, just being human, we will never be perfect after all, etc. But the reality is that we really do not want anyone telling us what to do, including God.
Folks, this deal is pretty simple. God is “God”, and we are not. His ways are not our ways, His deeds are not our deeds, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is God!!! He is so far beyond our imagination that we will never truly grasp His majesty and glory. And after all, would you even want a God that you could dissect and fully grasp? In some ways God has made Himself fully known and understandable, yet in other ways God is an amazing mystery.
The Bible says in Ephesians 1:3-11 & 2:8-10 that God knew you and chose you before the world was created, that He created you then prepared in advance a list of good works for you to accomplish in your lifetime, and that as time reaches fulfillment He will make the mystery of His will known to you.
Our job? Love God with ALL of our heart and with ALL of our soul, and with ALL of our mind. Seek first God and will take care of the details and make the mystery of His will known to you at the proper time. Embrace Him as God. Surrender to Him and His purposes for you. Surrender your right to debate with Him or to see equality with His as something to be grasped. Surrender your plans and your dreams for the future to Him. Choose, as an act of your will, to have no other gods before Him. And don’t forget to thank Him for the next breath you take because He is the one who gives it to you.