Fall seems the perfect time to dive into a football-faith analogy (although I may be the least likely person to make this comparison, there may be a few puns… bear with me friends…)

Lifegroups this past season discussed a quote that reads… “

“Ministry is like the NFL- 22 people on the field desperately in need of rest, with 75,000 people in the stands desperately in need of exercise.” (Dan Grider)

While I understand the author’s point, everyone doing their part is crucial in the work of the church, the biggest piece for me is the why. Why do so many of us find ourselves in the stands, especially when it’s not where we want to be? It’s where I was. For years in my faith, I was just as the quote describes. I knew I was in need of spiritual exercise. I knew I should be serving in ways I wasn’t. I longed to be using my giftings but unknowingly, I had allowed things like insecurity, pride, fear and comparison to keep me pinned to my seat. Underneath what I knew to be true, I found myself bound up in lies like… you do not have a place on the team, you have nothing to contribute, you are not good enough or skilled. You are not wanted or needed. I was paralyzed in the stands, feeling banned from the field.

It took me a lot of raw, honest reflection in the light of God’s Word and prayer to see I had mistakenly made my gifts and service more about me than about Christ. Please hear me when I say this: God is not the one keeping us in the stands. It is Him who has guaranteed our spot on the team. 

When you first placed your faith in Christ, you became part of a living, breathing body- the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13). You became a member of a team who is deficit without you (1 Cor 14-18). You don’t have to earn your spot or prove yourself good enough to play – Christ has already done that (2 Cor 3:4-5). All you need to do is take the place that is already yours (1 Cor 12:27). You are not just another face in the crowd (1 John 3:1). You are God’s chosen instrument, set apart for the purpose of Christ in this world (John 15:16). When we give our all on that field, His glory is displayed, His Kingdom is advanced and His Body – the Church – is strengthened.

Yes, there are seasons like Spring training, when God is creating a new thing. There are seasons of slow growth as He strengthens our muscles, building up wisdom and endurance. There are times when God in his goodness gives us seasons of rest and renewal. But these seasons do not equate to being benched or not a part of the team as the enemy would have us believe. We must become trained to protect our minds by putting on the helmet of salvation. Huddling together in prayer, relying on the Holy Spirit and Scripture to be our guide.

Imagine for a second, what might happen if we flipped that quote. If rather than watching a seemingly heavy-sided battle unfold, we stood up to take our place. What if together, we encouraged and relied on one another and on Christ. We can do the good, hard blood-sweat-and-tears work we have been given to do. But not from the stands. It’s time to call out the lies of the enemy keeping our fellow teammates sidelined. These are not just points on a board to be won, but souls to be saved. The stakes are so high and the time is so short. Friends, let’s not be deceived; our place as believers is together, on that field. There are too many spectators watching who may not yet know… they too have a place on the team.

 

Written by Morgan Alexander