My experience within the church has led me to this conclusion. The church has many people who have come to recognize that they do not have the ability to live eternally in the presence of God and they desire to do so. They have come to recognize that only through Jesus Christ can they be made worthy to live eternally. They know that it was through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that they have been forgiven of their sins and that it is Jesus that makes them worthy. The problem is that many people in church don’t know what to do from there.
Luke 10:27 (ESV) 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
We all know that this passage is a big part of what we are supposed to do as Christians. But how do we do it? How do we give God everything and how do we love our neighbors?
My observation of a number of Christians over the years reminds me of a football team. But this football team is unlike most other teams. This team invites people to join their team and then provides them a playbook to read. Occasionally they will watch game film from other teams to see how they play the game and everyone on the team sure wishes they could play the game and be like that team. But the team never moves beyond reading the playbook. Few ever practice what is in the playbook. Once in a while a group will get brave and they will go out and they will try and play in a game, but they usually come back bruised and battered with no desire to play in a game again. How many of us are a part of a church but don’t play in the game? As a pastor I am confronted with the reality that our culture no longer has the expectation that people will be a part of a church. Without that expectation, more and more people are tired of getting together to talk about the playbook. Would you be a part of a football team that only read the playbook and never practiced or played any games?
My fellow Christians, may we make sure that we read the playbook (the Bible), but may we also join together in discipleship and help each other learn how to live by the playbook so that we can play the game in confidence and actually reap the benefits that come from playing the game successfully. When you talk about something that requires action, take the time to practice doing it within your group. Take the time to work through how you do it. Football teams that are successful have to practice. What is our measurement for having played successfully? I think Luke 10:27 is a pretty good yard stick.
I know that following Jesus is not a game. It is very serious and has life and death consequences, but I encourage you to evaluate your experience following Jesus if you are a follower of Jesus. Are you living on the edge? Is there excitement in your life? Is there risk? Is there suffering? Is there joy? Following Jesus means risking everything and it is the most exciting and terrifying thing you will ever do, but it will also be the best thing you ever did even in the midst of the pain and struggle that is life.