You on the team?
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:- Romans 12:4-6
Living in Philadelphia has made everyone a sports fan this past year. The Eagles famously and extraordinarily became the champions of Superbowl LII and with that it sparked a thirst for championships. Villanova’s win along with the strong seasons from the Sixers and Flyers has kept the city focused on its sports teams.
So with such an orientation towards sports lets imagine how church functions with a sports team illustration in mind. Lets look at church and ask ourselves some very basic questions – how is the team structured? What’s our goal?
All teams are designed to win. No one organizes a team to simply be in the league and go through the motions. The church needs to be just as intentional. The goal of every church is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to clearly outline what it means to believe in Jesus, guard the Gospel against adulterations and spread it around the world. We are in the business of spreading the message of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World. We score a touchdown every time someone listens and believes. It begets a win-win situation because we win by scoring in the long game and the individual wins because they begin a wonderful journey of transformation in Christ and they join the team.
This is important because there are many teams in the league more concerned with the makeup of their players, the feelings of their sponsors, the name of the stadium than they are with scoring. We have to remember what we are here for.
To that effect, we have to remember that if we are here its because we are on the team but we need to comprehend where we fall in the structure. There are those on the team that have a few misperceptions of their roles.
In this illustration God the Father owns the league and sets the rules. Jesus owns one team and Satan the other. We are playing in Superbowl Eternity. Pastors and staff on Jesus’ team are the coaches and the congregations are the players – each with their own strength, talent and role to play. Some are on defense, offense or special teams. Everyone gets a chance on the field.
Herein comes one of the first misperceptions we have to confront. There are an awful lot of players who are convinced that the most important of being on the team is to show up at the locker room before the game. They seem to think that getting together to learn the strategies, to understand the plays, to practice runs and be edified by the coaches are an end unto themselves. They come to the locker room to be inspired and equipped and then they go home.
The real victory doesn't take place in the planning or inspirational talks but out in the field face to face with the opposing team. The true purpose of the team is revealed in the clashing, running and execution of plays against the opponents. The real endurance and strength of the team is revealed in how the Holy Spirit communicates with the players and inspires them in the heat, rain and snow on the field. The touchdowns take place on the field.
If we understand the Gospel and comprehend its true value we have to understand that it doesn't take place in the sanctuaries of our churches but in the open field of every day life at work, school or with families. We have to be willing to put into play what we practice in the safety of our churches out in the field where the opponent is seeking to stop us in our tracks. If we are not willing to get out and do what we’ve been called and trained to do we will not be able to bask in the victory of seeing God at work in the lives of others.
We have too many players who never leave the locker room, who insist on being on the sidelines second guessing the coaches call, or wishing they were in the stands.
The illustration isn’t perfect and when pushed it can fall apart but the point isn’t that I’ve found a perfect illustration to depict the church, the point is that too often the church is filled with people who are willing to wear the uniform, who desire the championship rings, and genuinely love the team but they are self limited to the confines of the locker room.
We need to grasp our call and role in the church and embrace it with zeal and a fervent spirit as noted in Romans 12:11. It is my hope that we may each embrace our role and be willing to hit the gridiron with enthusiasm to do the work of the Kingdom of God.