GAMING PRACTICE


I remember the first year I played Junior High football—I think it is called Middle School these days. That was many years ago. There was a guy who suited out for the team. He was small, not very athletic and had no previous experience playing football. At practice, he would routinely get the stuffing knocked out of him by the bigger guys on the team. He was a real-life blocking dummy. I thought this kid would ultimately tire from the beating his body was taking on the field and quit. I was wrong. This kid faithfully showed up for practice every day.

During the first or second game of the season, the coach went over to this kid – who had certainly paid his dues during practice time and told him that he wanted him to go into the game. The dude’s response surprised everyone. “I don’t want to play, coach.” I just thought he was afraid of getting hurt in a real game.

After the game the coach gathered the team around and had a talk with him. “Look,” he said, “a game is really no different than practice. There’s no greater chance of getting hurt during a game than in practice.” His reply this time was shocking: “No coach, you don’t understand. I’m not afraid to get hurt. I just don’t want to play. The reason I’m on the team is so I can wear the game jersey and be seen on the sidelines. You know, girls love football players.” Immediately laughter broke out all around. Unfortunately, this kid had an incredibly distorted view of what playing football was all about! The value and significance of the game isn’t being seen on the sideline, and thus gaming the system, but in playing.

I wonder, how many people have a similar attitude about living the Christian life? I’ve encountered many Christians over the years that are more observers than participants. In Aggie land they would be called 2%’ers—only devoting themselves to 2% of the total campus experience. Perhaps what G. K. Chesterton said is right on the money, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Jesus said that salt that has lost its saltiness is useless. Living the Christian life on the sidelines (@ 2%) is like being un-salty salt. True satisfaction in living the Christian life comes from “playing the game” not from observing. The value comes from living out your faith everyday where you live and work. It’s about being salty. It’s about being a light in a dark world. Get in the game!

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