Last week, we learned there's a lot about the game of football that can only be learned by stepping on a football field and playing the game.
Come to think of it, there's a lot about the Christian life that can only be learned by "playing the game," that is, immersing oneself in the activities that demonstrate you are a follower of Christ. Many people who claim to be Christians are like armchair quarterbacks, content to be spectators and critique others who are playing the game, but unwilling to make an effort to play the game themselves. We need more Christians "on the field," instead of in their easy chairs.
Here are some things that are necessary to effectively "play the game" of Christianity.
1. Knowledge of the game -- One of the most important possessions of a football player is his playbook. If he wants to excel at the game, he needs to study his playbook until he has it memorized. Only then will he be able to excel at the game, reacting instinctively instead of having to take time to think about every situation he might face.
The Christian's playbook is the Bible. In order to excel at the Christian life, a person needs to systematically study the Bible to learn and memorize what God has revealed to us in black and white. (Or red and white, as the case may be.) A Christian who doesn't study his Bible is like a football player who steps on the field without knowing his playbook. He is probably going to be embarrassed and humiliated. And defeated.
2. The techniques of the game -- A football player, as he learns the game, also learns techniques that make him more effective in carrying out his assignments.
As a Christian studies his "playbook," the Bible, he is also going to learn techniques that make him more effective in carrying out his assignments in living the Christian life. Some of those techniques include: "Whoever spends time with wise people will become wise." – Proverbs 13:20; "Let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no' be 'no.'" – Matthew 5:37; " If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him." – Romans 12:17.
3. Teamwork -- A football player is part of a team that works together for a common goal. Without his teammates by his side, his individual efforts will be ineffective. But working together with his teammates, he can -- with them -- accomplish great things.
The Christian is also a part of a team. That team is called the "church". As a football player without his team is pretty much ineffective, a Christian's efforts apart from the church will be pretty much ineffective, as well. But when a Christian joins his fellow believers in the common goals of advancing the kingdom of God, there is virtually nothing they cannot achieve.
If you're a Christian, join the team. Study your playbook. Learn the techniques. And someday you will hear the words, "Well done."
-- Doug Chastain is a retired teacher and is currently a large-vehicle transportation specialist for the Siloam Springs School District. (Okay, he drives a bus.) He is also a grass maintenance technician at Camp Siloam. (Yeah, he mows the lawn.) You can contact him at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.