Game day

I can’t remember how long it’s been since I last used a football analogy, but in my mind, one can never use them too often.

This weekend, I made a trip out to go see two of my nephews play football. As a part of their fundraising (and to clear out room in storage), the team is selling off old jerseys. Since I didn’t yet have any team apparel, I snagged one of these game-worn shirts. Immediately after putting it on, I noticed some pretty major differences between it and the other jerseys I own. While my fan jerseys are all pretty awesome, they’d be useless if I ever actually wanted to play the game of football. Unlike a game jersey, they have little stretch and absolutely no room for protective padding. It got me thinking about how we, as Christians, wear different shirts and expect results that we are unprepared for.

Now, I can go to Saskatchewan, wear my green and white jersey with a name and number on the back and tell everyone that I play for the Roughriders. But no one is going to believe me. I’m just a fan. It’s obvious. Or I can step out onto the field in my new gold and black jersey and claim I’m a Bear, but it’s quite plain that I’m not. This is how a lot of Christians are. They get saved and become fans of the faith. It’s alright. They follow the rest of the team and wear the team shirt when it suits them, but they’re not team players. They aren’t equipped.

Then we have the armchair quarterbacks. You know, those people who wear the game jersey ballooning out across their shoulders. There’s room for equipment, but it’s not there. They know the playbook and the rulebook and are more than willing to tell everyone else how to play the game, but are again, ill equipped to actually get in there and do it themselves.

We also have those like my nephew, with both the playbook and rulebook memorized, game jersey on—filled out with a full set of pads, early to every practice, in every play, learning every position. This is how we are all supposed to be—eager to get on the field at every opportunity. And, if we’re not playing, we should be coaching—showing those with less experienced how to get things done.

Paul was Timothy’s coach. Paul had been in the game for a while and was raising up the next team to take his place on the so-called field of faith.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

The Word of God contains everything we need to get out there and do what He’s called us to do. And let’s set the record straight—God has not called any of us simply to be fans or armchair quarterbacks. We’ve all be drafted to the team and are expected to do everything we can to help the team grow, become stronger, and win.

Church, get ready. It’s game day.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 25-26. 2 Timothy 3

Rules

I have been to and heard of many churches that have rules. Lots of rules: girls must wear skirts to cover their ankles, men must not associate with single women, no one can pierce their ears (or any other body part, for that matter), children can be seen, but must not be heard… The lists can go on and on and on. What I’d like to know is, where in the Bible is all of that?

An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

2 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)

What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Let me tell you what I think this means.

A lot of Christians think that we still need to follow the letter of the Old Testament law. This just isn’t so. Jesus came to fulfil the law. He replaced it with a new one – love. If you think about it, all of the important things in the Old Testament can be summed up in that one simple word. God knew full well that we, as fallen man, could never keep the law. If we could, redemption wouldn’t have been necessary.

So what are our rules if not the law? Jesus gave us some examples:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6 (NKJV)

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

John 14:12

All through the Gospels, Jesus was giving examples of how He wants us to live. These are the new rules and, as I stated before, they are all summed up with that one word. Love.

Being good isn’t good enough. I can throw a football. I can catch a football. But that doesn’t mean that I will ever be the quarterback for the team that wins the Grey Cup. I know a lot of the rules of the game, but not all the rules of the game. I am not qualified to win (or even play) the game.

Being able to do some of the things Jesus commanded is not enough. Knowing the things Jesus commanded us to do is not enough. We have to know the rules and play the game. It’s the only way to win.