My son loves sports. Only four, he thrives on hitting a baseball, dribbling a basketball, or kicking a soccer ball. Consequently, we signed him up for soccer this spring and he loves everything about it…except…the game.
The coach divides the kids into groups and my son will run through the drills, always looking back at my wife and I, with the biggest smile on his face. The team lines up on one line and races toward the other end and he sprints his heart out. He’s won 6 0f 7 races! He’ll get together with a friend and kick the ball back and forth just for fun.
But then comes the game…
Within five seconds, my little guy gets this distraught look on his face and hightails it over to us. I’m not quite sure what scares him, but for some reason, he has the hardest time getting used to playing the actual game. He’ll do the drills, he’ll do the racing, he’ll practice his heart out, but he struggles with getting into the game.
I wonder if we do that too.
Most of us excel at wanting to practice. We want rules, we want guidelines. 20 minute quiet times? We can do that. Pray for a few minutes? Sure, why not? Attend church fairly regularly? No problem, I like the people. Give some money away? Tougher, but o.k.
We have mastered these drills, but when it comes to getting into the game, we’re often unsure, scared, or both.
Maybe we’ll fail.
Maybe people won’t like us.
Maybe I don’t know enough.
Maybe certain things are for “higher up” Christians.
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
We create these barriers in our hearts and minds and find ourselves playing the majority of the game on the sideline. We’ll cheer for the success of missionaries, pastors, or “stronger” Christians, but never do much more than practice or watch.
Some may ask, “What exactly is this game you refer to?”
Valid question. I think it involves many things: sharing our faith, serving others, encouraging others in the faith, etc.
I’m not intending to denigrate discipline and “practices”, but I’m reminded of Psalm 67 .
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
2 so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
We are saved by grace, through faith. Our relationship with God is essential. Prayer and scripture should permeate our lives. However, as they do, they motivate us to action. “May God be gracious to us…so that your ways may be know on earth.” Israel was meant to be a light to the nations. In the same vein, we are God’s ambassadors.
Paul, in Ephesians 2, right after he gives the Gospel, says we were created for good works which God has prepared for us to do. We practice, we run drills, we discipline ourselves, so that we are prepared to play the game.
As you study Scripture this week, as you pray, and as you attend your local church, ask yourself:
Have I been faithfully sharing my faith this month?
Have I looked for opportunities to serve in Christ’s name?
Have I built up another brother or sister in their faith?
Let us not practice for practice sake. We “practice” so that our lives may make much of Him.