I love watching the Olympics and every time they come around I find myself getting sucked into the excitement and the pageantry. Sports that I couldn’t have cared less about for four years are suddenly exciting and I could sit spellbound, critiquing relay hand-offs or figure skating routines.
Part of the excitement is that there is national pride on the line and, if you are like me, you feel the thrill of excitement and victory when one of your country’s runners, swimmers, or other athletes wins the gold. Part of the thrill is that we feel in some way that we ourselves have won through the athletic feats of those who represent our country. All citizens can share in the victor’s glory or the agony of defeat.
As exciting as it can be to see a compatriot win the gold medal, a part of me wonders as I watch “what must it be like to be the one to have won the gold?” Not merely a spectator but the one running the race. As great as it is to cheer on the winning team, how much more amazing would it be to be on the team itself; to train and hone your skills and put them to the test.
Sometimes we can approach the Christian life like the Olympics: there is the team (those “doing ministry”) and the rest of us cheer them on, excited and yet, perhaps wondering what must it be like to be the one in the trenches for the Lord. For many years, I mistakenly believed that pastors and missionaries were the one’s doing God’s work while the rest of us were involved in lesser pursuits. It was actually after several years as a missionary myself that God opened my eyes to the bigger picture.
You see, the exciting news is that, as his followers, Jesus has called us all to get in the game. Yes, we celebrate what God is doing in and through others but we also have our own part to play. The moment we surrender our life to Jesus, we are members of his team. Some believers get this right away and immediately get on the track to start running the race. Others of us think being on the team merely means getting a better view of the action and we take our places on the bench and watch others compete.
If this describes you, like it described me at one time, then you need to know that Jesus is calling you off the bench and wants to put you in the game. No longer spectators or bench warmers, God has equipped us, given us unique gifts and talents and has placed us in events to use them. What events are you competing in? Your job, the school PTA meeting, kids’ soccer teams, video game night with the guys, your church small group, your family, the hair salon, the place you buy coffee. When we decide to follow Christ, he is Lord over every part of our lives and we are called to be his witnesses in every part of our life. As theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper said, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’”
Yes, you are being put into the game and God wants to use the unique person he has created, you with your quirks and foibles, you with the personality and mix of gifts and abilities that God has given to you. You are being put into the game to share God’s love and his truth amidst the brokenness around you. Like the Olympics, there is glory to be won but unlike the Olympics it is the glory of God we seek and unlike the Olympics, we are already assured of victory. Who would be ready to give their all in a match that is already won for the glory of their King?
Get in the game! Let us not be content to merely revel in the victories of our teammates but let us seek out our own victories for Christ!
It’s easy to get in the game once you are motivated. Below are a few questions to help you get started!
- What are the abilities, gifts, interests, and passions God has given you?
- If you don’t know the answer to the first question, what are some ways you might begin to find out?
- Think about your regular relationships such as your family and friends, your workplace, your church, or other places you regularly interact with others. What needs stick out to you? Which relationships are pressing on your mind and heart? In which relationships would you like to be more intentional with your Kingdom purpose?
- Now think about questions one and three. How can you use the gifts and abilities the Lord has given you to love, serve or impact the people you identified?