Such as times when your mind is filled with a myriad of competing thoughts and feelings. Times when your eyes are filled with tears due to seeing great division and hatred course through the veins of our country. Times when your heart feels heavy from the burden of people making decisions that could not only negatively affect their lives, our lives, and countless others, but the lives of many generations to come. Times when your spirit is crushed with the reality of how many people desperately need the love and grace of Jesus, but are living so unaware.
For me, it’s times like now, when it has become undeniably obvious that not only has America become a nation which has silenced the voice of the majority, but a nation where God’s people are no longer the home team.
In the last 50 years, America has gone from being a nation whose values were based on right and wrong and was proud to call herself one nation under God, to a nation that passes and enforces laws which go completely against His Word and the basic values and morals this country was built on … all under the guise of fairness, tolerance, permissiveness, deserved freedoms and the ‘anything goes if someone loud enough wants it to’ mentality.
So many decisions made by the Supreme Court and state/local governments in recent years have literally left my head spinning in disbelief. Not just one particular decision, but the overall wave of change that has occurred in many areas, from the sanctity of life, to the definition of marriage, to the legalization of harmful drugs, to blurring the lines on religious liberties, to removing faith from schools, colleges and workplaces. And more. With each new ‘landmark ruling’, not only is God put further on the back burner, but the citizens of one beautiful, blessed nation become further and further divided.
The most heartbreaking fact of all is that God’s Word is being drug through the mud like a worthless deflated ball, spit upon, called irrelevant, and laughed at, and the Christian faith no longer seems to have the home court advantage in America.
But the truth is, Jesus never had the home court advantage either.
He was always considered the outcast, with the exception of His beloved followers. He was always opposed to laws or governing that went against what was right in His Father’s eyes. He was always scoffed at for not accepting sin and immorality as acceptable, and surely considered intolerant. He was always considered a threat to the ever changing social norms. He was always persecuted for standing up for God’s truths and for preaching righteousness. He was always trying to be silenced by the voices that seemed louder and more powerful than His own, from an earthly perspective.
Yet when the game got harder, He stepped up His game. He stood strong in the face of persecution. He persevered. He boldly stood up for the Truth without hesitation. He maintained Godly character, thoughts and behaviors. He portrayed peace and love despite His sufferings. He died for His people. He rose again. He lives and is still sitting at the right hand of God the Father even now.
Jesus is in Heaven and still controlling this game of life, but we are here on earth playing in an enemy territory that is growing more and more dangerous, sinful and heartbreaking. There’s no doubt about it. God’s team of earthly believers is now officially the away team.
Christians – it’s time to start thinking like the away team. We may feel like the underdog, but we can embrace a mindset of victory. (click to tweet) The crowds may not be cheering for us, and our fans may seem far fewer in the stands. The ‘plays’ that used to work to help people come to Jesus, don’t seem to be gaining the same amount of yardage. The “playbook” known as the gospel has not changed, and never will, but the playing field is certainly different. In fact, at times it feels volatile and scary. Opponents seem bigger and more powerful, and Christians are reeling in the shadow of the team who appears to be getting farther and farther ahead in the game.
But we, as a devoted team of believers, have the best Coach there is, and we know that in the end, He wins. He was, is and always will be the Victor. But even knowing that truth, living in a broken world, which constantly pulls farther and farther away from morals, values and righteousness, is hard. And sad. And can sometimes make us team members feel hopeless.
But the key word there – is TEAM. Every believer in Christ is on the same team, although opinions and beliefs on policies and laws and biblical interpretations may vary from time to time. Rather than let our challenges discourage our hearts, or cause us to act or react in ways that don’t bring glory to our Coach, we can take the Coach’s biblical advice to persevere and stand up for our beliefs in ways that show love and peace. Not because our minds always want to act in love and peace, but because our hearts are grounded in what we know to be right. Most of all, we can commit to trust that God will use all things for good to glorify Him, including these tumultuous times in which we live.
Regardless of how we differ in opinions and beliefs, we can always choose to give our very best effort and attitude to our team and our team members. Rather than get angry, judge others, or even give up, might we as Christians develop a team attitude that glorifies Christ, instead of divides His kingdom? Rather than put our tail in between our legs, forfeit the game, and keep our voices silenced, might we as a team of Christians let the challenge of being the away team motivate us to step up our game for Jesus? No matter how the opinions of believers may differ, the truth is, we’re still all on the same team. And our team’s goal should be to glorify God, spread His Name and make Him famous – not our own agendas.
I recently shared on Facebook something profound my Pastor said, which was this: “Despite all the problems in America today, and the fact that the world seems to be spinning out of control, this is the greatest time in the history of the world to be on mission for Jesus Christ. This is the greatest time! If you had to pick a time in which you wanted to be salt and light and be different, it would be right now.”
This truly is the greatest time of all time to start trusting our heavenly Coach and believing He still has an incredible game plan even though we can’t see it. It is the greatest time ever to let love and peace and righteousness be our loudest voice, and let our passion for Christ motivate our steps, instead of judgment, hatred, and division. A time to acknowledge that we are up against a powerful opponent, an enemy, but not one that is made of flesh and blood. It is an important game, and at times there are some really bad calls made, but we always have the freedom to choose what role we are going to play, how we are going to use our God-given gifts to further our cause, and how we are going to play the game overall.
Just as each team has rules, God’s team does too. We are called to put others first, get rid of self, and let Him transform our hearts and minds to be like His, even when nothing in us feels like doing so. We are called to forgive and love our enemies, not just those who agree with us. We are called to stand strong in the face of opposition and firmly grounded in God’s Word – yet at the same time – act and react in love, while depending on encouragement and strength from The Coach we trust to help us do so.
But in addition to these guidelines for living, we need to make a commitment to believe in our Coach with all our heart, soul and mind. To stand firm in our faith and trust He is in control even when the odds are against us and even when it appears we are gradually falling too far behind in the game to ever gain the upper hand. We need to commit to let His voice be louder in our hearts than our opponents, and to NEVER, EVER give in to defeat.
We are all here for a reason in this specific day and age, and every one of us, as believers in Christ, have a unique purpose on this holy team in the world today that only we can fulfill. But it is our choice how we are going to play the game.
It seriously does feel like Christians are the away team now, and slowly losing the battle, and that hurts. But if you ask me, the reality of that can be our biggest motivation to step up our game. (click to tweet)
It serves as tangible proof that there has never been a better time to start using our voices, standing bold and tall, giving our Coach, Jesus Christ, everything we’ve got and start playing harder for His team than ever before.
What might you do for Christ today to step up your game?
Ephesians 6:13 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting, you’ll still be on your feet. (MSG)
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