When I signed a contract to play volleyball for the University of Kansas, I made a 5-year commitment to represent them and be loyal to this particular team. There were other reputable schools I had offers to play for, but…it would be this one that I chose. And, therefore, it would be this one that I would forever be faithful to in my collegiate allegiance.
Part of becoming a new member of this team included wearing certain clothes that showed the other teams which team I represented. Another part of being on this team was evident by the people I spent most of my time associating with, i.e. my teammates, trainers, managers, and coaches, etc. This team had not only a peer-leader called a captain, but we also had a team-leader, also known as, “Coach.”
Why am I going into this elemental and obvious 101 talk of sports team culture?
I’ve observed some insights from this in the Christian culture that quite honestly can be a bit disheartening to me, at times.
Ya see, when I made a decision to put my faith in Jesus at the age of eighteen, I signed an internal contract of my heart to commit my life to playing on God’s team. I had been playing for “other” teams up until then and I was quite sick of being on a losing team. And, when I decided to play for this new team, this also meant that I would then be forever faithful to it and to winning on it.
And, just as I represented the University of Kansas with all the amazing Crimson and Blue paraphernalia a Jayhawk could dream of, so too, as a Christian, my aim has been to clothe myself with the qualities that best represent Christ. I began to spend most of my time associating with people who were committed to my same team and consequently became a stronger player, as a result with the overall purpose of winning. I have also listened to the guidance and coaching of the authority God has put in my life, like my pastors, ministry leaders, and of course, God Himself to again, grow stronger and make our team better.
Here’s the problem though…It’s confusing to me and doesn’t sit right when I see some of my “so-called” teammates not only wearing another team’s jersey, but at times, playing on their team.
I prayed with another current teammate of mine the other day because she, like me, was disheartened to see the dual-life many professing Christians are living. She had seen some of the people from her new church a few times out and about making choices not reflective of our team values and didn’t want to play into their fakeness on church days. I get that. I understand there are and will always be the growth curve in walking out our Christian faith which involves mistakes (and lots of them, at times.) But consistently making certain choices is called practicing and how you practice is how you will play in the game of life. When you practice a way of life—it then becomes your lifestyle-whether good or bad.
Let’s take a look at what Paul has to say about this in 1 Corinthians 5: 9-13 when he was addressing one of his teams: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those outside, God judges.”
It’s clear, if you have joined this JC (Jesus Christ team…I’m a cornball, what can I say?!) that we are to be critical about the way any of our ‘so-called’ teammates are practicing their life-choices, if it’s not consistent to the clothing and commitment of our team.
Now, if you’re reading and you’re not on this team yet, no worries…I am not being critical of you and hope you will someday join this AMAZING championship team! We need you on our team : )
But to you, my dear teammate, if you have found yourself dipping over into the other team’s land, I pray you choose today which team you will be on and hopefully it’ll be mine (‘cause I sure would like you back!) Be either hot or cold for our cause and I implore you to keep yourself unstained by the world (as encouraged in James Chapter 1:27) as this is part of practicing true religion. Because remember you CAN NOT love BOTH these worlds…you HAVE to pick a team. So, here I am–recruiting you back to the All-Stars and reminding you that you were born to be a winner! Come back to your first love and let’s win in this life together!! THE PRIZE IS WORTH IT!!