Monday, September 12, 2011

Get in the Game!

Well the first couple of college football games are over and many coaches are busier than ever. Many coaches who were enthusiastic at the end of summer practice realize they have a lot of work to do. In practice things are much more scripted, things move at a slower pace, coaches and players are told what to do, how to do it and if it does not work they blow the whistle and try again.

However, on game day things change. The coaches can only attempt to script the plays. When the opposing team has the ball plays have to be called but many times they are adjusted once the ball is snapped. The pace is much faster on game day and if things don't go as planned you have to sit by and watch the play unfold no matter how ugly it may be! And one other thing. At practice the coaches will not allow their star players to get hit at full speed. On game day the opposing team wants to hit the quarterback, running back or wide receiver with everything he has. He wants to intimidate the player and make him think twice about running a play towards him again. Listen to what the Clemson quarterback Taj Boyd said about his opening game “It’s a little bit different from when you scrimmage on the practice field and there’s nobody in the stands” In other words the pressure is taken to a whole new level on game day. The expectations are much higher on game day.

As I thought about this I thought about how many Christians never get in the game. Many, if not most, Christians spend their lives on the practice field. They spend their lives in church, in a Bible study, in a small group or some other "practice field". None of these are bad but you never really get to test yourself on the practice field. Your skills, your talents, your abilities are not stretched, are not strengthened are not fully realized until you are in the game.

Paul's life is a great example of getting in the game. After his conversion, or recruitment to play of Christ's team, Paul had to learn the plays so to speak. For three years Paul spent time learning how to play the game.
Galatians 1: 13-17 - 13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.
After these three years it was time for Paul to get in the game. He had practiced and learned the play book. Now it was time to get in the game and knock heads with the opposing team and boy did he.
II Corinthians 11: 24-27 - 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
The game was tough and Christ warned his disciples that when they stepped on the field it would be very difficult - Matthew 10. But never-the-less he commanded them to get out on the field and play. He is telling us to do the same thing today. For many of us we have spent too much time on the practice field where it is safe. It is time to get on the playing field and reach the lost and dying. It is time to knock heads with the enemy.

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