Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 1 of “Fan or Follower – Shine Brightly” (LISTEN HERE).
Every athletic competition has a match up between at least two competing individuals or team. The outcome of the contest can be determined by a number of factors.
Sometimes a matchup is won or loss based on a measure of skill. At times one team just has better talent than the other and that talent overwhelms the opponent. Sometimes matches are lost because the mental game is lost. One team sees an opponent and perceives they are bigger, stronger or more talented and already concedes the game before it even starts. Sometimes memories of past matchups plague the confidence of team and even though the players and circumstances have changed, the outcome is already determined in one’s mind.
When we are invited by our Savior out on to the field of following him, skill and talent are probably not the problem. Rather, I know what makes following Jesus challenging is the mindset to engage in following him. How I perceive the one I follow and the obstacles I encounter has great influence on the way I follow Jesus.
As we address different “matchups” in our following of Jesus, sometimes there will be a skill that needs to be honed, however more often it is a mindset and perspective that the Spirit of God wants to form in us to grow our confidence and conviction as we follow Jesus.
The matchup this week is if we are going to play for “Team Whiner” or “Team Shiner.”
Team Shiner of course. But be careful, our minds and perspective can take us to pull for Team Whiner. What do I mean? Here’s Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:13-16. (For fun, read the words like a coach would be saying them to his team just before they run out onto the field…)
13 “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.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Salt is a seasoning, a preservative and a purifier. As followers of Jesus, we have opportunity to be all three. However, Team Whiner scores points in our heart when we are convinced that salt will not be effective in the world around us.
I recently read a report that today about 65% of America still professes to be Christian. By 2050, the same report projected only about 35-40% of America will profess to be Christian. For the first time ever, in not very many years, Christianity will be a minority faith in America. A stat like this works in our mind to believe that while we are called to be salt there is no way we are going to be an influence. Whining tells us that “it doesn’t matter.” “People don’t want Christ” “It just is going to keep going.” Whining tells us to not even try because the tide is shifting and the momentum of the “game” is shifting to the anti-Christian movement and influence.
Team Whiner scores points in our heart when we feel like it is not safe or we are embarrassed to let our light shine for Jesus. We worry about how our friends, family, classmates and coworkers will respond if they see too much of our “Jesus light” shine out. So, we feel more safe to keep our faith hidden and put aside so we don’t attract too much attention. As we are whining and complaining, Satan is winning as the reality of Christ continues to wane around us. The influences of the world around us begin to lessen our impact as Christians. As a result, we “lose our saltiness” and are willing to be trampled by men.
Whining is NOT winning.
And we don’t want Team Whining to be the winning team.
Apply: How do you play on Team Whining from time to time? What makes you complain or be discouraged when you think about following Christ and sharing Christ?
Prayer: Father, forgive me for whining about following you. I know with you I am always on the winning team, yet I forget and feel like your followers are losing instead of winning. Overcome the whiny thoughts in my mind and replace them with the hope, confidence and certainty you want on your winning team! AMEN.