But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
By nature, sports are a competition. But to compete, you must be in the game. Like the coach chooses players to be in the football game, God has chosen us to be in the game. Satan our competitor is focused on our defeat. But it is sad to say, just like in real life football games, most of the people in the stadium sit in the stands. Then there are those who are on the team, but sit in the bench. Most of us would prefer rest on the bench (or pew) and observe the game – both with encouragement and more often with criticism about how others are playing on the field. But God doesn’t call us to be spectators, but participants. Our field is the world, and our goal is to win it for Jesus Christ. Sure, some will have a special call to play a bigger role, but everyone is called onto the field to play. Even if you may not have a key role a particular play, you must still be ready at a moment’s notice to dash onto the field and play your part when the coach calls your number to be on the field. You must clearly know your position, train, and practice your plays to be best prepared for that moment when you might be called upon to make a difference in the game.
RULES to the Game
The football field is laid out in ten yard increments, has boundaries, and there are rules to the game. The boundaries are there to keep us in the game. The 10 yard markers are there not as the object, but as a point of reference as we move toward the goal. If they weren’t there, we wouldn’t know if we were heading in the right direction or running to the wrong goal. God’s laws and the 10 commandments function in much the same way. They keep us in the game and give us points of reference for gaining or losing of ground. Violating the rules results in penalties and may even take us out of the game for a while. There are turnovers and fumbles as well. Yet when we compete according to the rules, and are victorious in our efforts, we will receive a prize.
TIME on the field is limited
The clock is counting down. The game of football is played in four quarters with a set time limit. The wise player, especially the quarterback, will keep his eye on the clock and make the most of his time. The same is true for us as Christians, but unlike the game on the football field, we can’t see the clock. We don’t know how much time is left. This makes it even more important for us to value our time and make the most of it. The Bible commands us to redeem the time, to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16) rather than waste it. In fact, if you think about the world today there is not much time left on the clock. In fact, it’s already the fourth quarter, down to the two minute warning, and now it’s up to us to play our part win another one for the coach. Things may seem dire. But in life, just like in football, nothing is impossible, everything can happen. You should not slack or give up until the referee blows his whistle and declares the Victor.
TRAINING is essential for Victory
In football there is the season and an off season. During the off season the team works on the fundamentals to get ready for the big games during football season. They train for the big games ahead. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. . There are times in our Christian walk when we experience seasons of rest. They’re not for us to be idle, but to prepare ourselves spiritually, to grow, to draw closer to God.
GEAR up for the Game
In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul gives the team the pre-game pep talk and reminds us to check our football gear. He’s talking about gearing up for battle, but football players also gear up for the game. If he’d been thinking about football he might have phrased it this way, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the uniform, so that you can take your stand against the opposing team… Therefore put on all of your gear so that when the game day comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the shoulder pads of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the shoes of readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the face mask of faith, with which you can conquer all the opponents’ plays. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, your playbook, which is the word of God. Let’s all commit the game to God as we kneel for a locker room prayer, that we might prove victorious in this game.”
Strive for the GOAL
It is not enough to simply be in the game. It is not enough to simply overcome the enemy. Our goal is to score one for the team. And another one. And another one. Touchdown after Touchdown. In life, the goal may seem at the far end of the field. It can be difficult to keep moving forward. It may seem that every time you run a play you get knocked down. Sometimes you may even get sacked. The solution is not to focus on where you have come from, but where you are going. “Press on toward the Goal.” Philippians 3:14 And while touchdowns are great, as Christians our goal is to do more than simply score, but to be the player the Head Coach has chosen us to be. We must be always moving forward, never fumbling the ball, and always gaining new ground. If we do stumble and fumble, we are to recover the ball quickly and press onward. If we step out of bounds, or get the wind knocked out of us, we must get back in the game and focus on the Coach. And even if you are tackled for a loss, When you are focused on Him, and run the plays He calls, you’ll find yourself moving toward the goal.
We don’t play alone, but play as part of a TEAM
Football is a team sport. You don’t win it alone. When the team is working in harmony under the direction of the coach things will happen. There are star players, but the star players cannot function without the core team. They need blockers, the need linemen to open up opportunities in the defenses. There is an offensive team, a kickoff team, a team of receivers, and a defensive team and each are critical to a win for the team. There is no individual victory, only the victory of the team. Only when all players, from the starting quarterback, the receivers, the linemen and the person playing his part in even the smallest position work together, does the team run a successful play. Likewise, every believer has a unique role and a part to play in the Kingdom of God.
The Victors receive a PRIZE.
It’s not Super Bowl rings, but the crown of eternal life Christ that we seek.
Dear Lord, help us be prepared to be in the game You have before us. Help us to train, gear up and strive for the goal. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.