After what I wrote about last week, I got to thinking. I know why you don’t play football.
You don’t want to hurt.
Since I last wrote, I got to talking to a couple guys and both told me they were good at playing football in high school but got hurt and never got to play for anything beyond that. Yep, football is rough on the body. I guess all the bad backs, ankles, and knees were worth the coolness factor for high-school guys to show off in front of the cheerleaders. That doesn’t surprise me.
What surprises me is how many people are willing to be damaged for a football in contrast the numbers of Christians who do not want to be hurt for Jesus. That is why they don’t get in the game. They’d rather eat pork rinds than catch the pigskin. They would rather cheer for the preacher than visit the person who has not been in church for two weeks. They’d rather be safe than useful.
I’m not going to lie and say, “Don’t worry about getting hurt, we’ll just play two-hand-touch.” (If you are not familiar with American football, in the backyard version, players often only tag with two hands rather than actually tackle someone. This method mostly prevents injuries.) This is God’s Kingdom and the opposing team wants us dead. It is a full-contact sport.
Now, we are not to hurt other humans. We are to love all people. The opponent we crush is the powers and forces in the dark, unseen realm. Yes, every believer is a player, a soldier on the battlefield. We even have helmets and gear provided (Ephesians 6:12-17). But…
Pain is the process
Since few people get involved and many who do start serving the Lord get hurt, I wanted to take a moment and clarify. You are going to get hurt. I just didn’t want any mistaken expectations here. Your sciatica might be damaged. You will tear a ligament, twist an ankle, or blow out a knee. You are supposed to.
You know why you will be hurt? Because that is the nature of this heavenly game we are playing. The only “player” to “go pro” was Jesus Christ. The “game” killed Him. We fulfill the uncompleted sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24).
If the Greatest Of All Time got shredded, you cannot expect to win at this without sustaining some collateral damage, too. But the glory of the prize is better than the damages of the process.
We enter God’s Kingdom by injury. New believers used to be taught that through many afflictions, pains, trials we enter the Kingdom (Acts 14:22). Now, they are told Jesus will give them a new car and a second home. When reality hits, they are unprepared.
Play offense without being offended
All of us are drafted. He picks His team—no volunteers allowed. Part of the contract is that we must get hurt. I don’t know why no one sees that part of the playbook, but we shouldn’t be shocked.
There are plenty of ways to get hurt.
- False players who try to take you down
- Outright attacks
- Stumbling blocks
- Teaming up against you
- Illegal maneuvers
Sometimes it will be so intense you want to give up on life (II Corinthians 1:5-8). It won’t always be physical, but sometimes spiritual battles—which are even harder to understand or explain to others.
Perhaps this is why Jesus let disciples know early on that there was tough stuff ahead. When He invited the disciples to fish for people, they did not think this meant sunny weekends on the lake with a cool breeze and a line in the water. To them, fishing was hard work—it was a team effort. It meant risky situations when trapped in a storm out on the lake at times. It meant sore backs and blistered hands.
You will put your energy into something. Every adult goes through tough stuff. Why not for the Kingdom? You will sign up for some team. Why not for one that lasts forever?
Yes, the people in the bleachers can shout “We won” with the team on the field, but only the ones on the green get the green (paycheck). Do you want an eternal reward? Get in the game. Want to lay up treasures in heaven? Seek first the Kingdom.
The woman at the well turned and brought people to the Messiah immediately. She got on the team quickly. What about you? Are you going to put some points on the board? Making disciples is what you were made for. The hurts that come with it are worth it.
Training has begun. The Coach has called you, “Follow Me!” Ready to go “all in” on this journey?
“Set! 238, hut, hut, hike!”
What hurts have you endured? What position do you play, so to speak, in the Kingdom?