For the Hope of This World

Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.  (1 Corinthians 9: 24c-25)

Growing up playing on many teams has helped me to follow Jesus.  Being a Christian is a contact sport, not a spectator event.  We aren’t meant to watch and cheer while Jesus performs.  There are no stands from which we can cheer or boo. There’s only a playing field, and Jesus expects us to be on it.

As Christians, we profess that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.  In today’s reading, Paul says that being a Christian is akin to being an athlete, which invites us to think about Jesus being our Coach.

My best coaches knew the mechanics of how to perform, and they also knew how to inspire the best of their players.  Since there could be no better coach than Jesus, and since there’s no bigger or more important game than the Christian life, I encourage us to listen to Him.

This is how I hear our Coach Jesus cheering us on: “You’re all on my team. I’ve chosen you. I want you to play the game of life, love, and grace with me.  The world desperately needs you.  The stakes couldn’t be higher.  People are drifting, losing their way, forgetting who they are, and denying who they belong to.  They’re choosing death and not life, darkness and not light, despair and not hope.  It’s going to take all of my disciples doing all that they can to win the game.  There’re no sidelines, no stands, no bench.  There’s only a field, and you’re the team.”

Our coach continues, “I’m your player-coach.  I need you to play when you are healthy or hurt, running or limping.  I will never leave the field without you. When you play for me and with me, you will experience the joy of knowing that God is working through you.  There’s no bigger game than the one before us.  This game starts now. This game is forever.  Let’s go do it for the glory of God and for the sake of His children and for the hope of this world!”

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you hear Coach Jesus talking to you? Is He calling you back into the game?  Is He teaching you how to perform some new skills? Is He supporting you to rest? Is He mending you while you might be injured?
  1. What are the unique gifts God has given to you to make a difference for His team, His Kingdom, and His service?
  1. Paul compares following Jesus to being an athlete because he wants us to be focused, driven, and in training. How’s your focus? Are you indeed driven to win anything, or anyone, for Jesus?  And how do you stay in shape to do the things our Coach would have you do?

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