Thursday, April 14, 2005

Moving the ball upfield

I’m not a big sports fan, but as Paul was fond of using analogies from the popular sports of his day, so it might be helpful for us to use them as well. Let me suggest that if our individual Christianity is a lot like running a race, I think our Christian relationships are a lot like moving the ball upfield in football (or rugby, for you European readers).

How so?

In football, the team on offense is trying to move the ball in one direction, toward the goal line, while the opposing team is doing what they can to stop or impede progress. In our Christian relationships, we have a duty to mutually edify one another in love. Isn't this like moving each person a little closer to the finish line? Shouldn't we try to leave each person we meet in a better place than we found them, spiritually speaking? Shouldn't we also likewise try to avoid "sidelining" someone who is sincere in his desire to get to the goal line?

Please don't confuse this with the soft-pedaled pop-Christian notion of "accepting people where they are." It is one thing to accept a person where he is, it is another to help him forward from where he is. God knows we all need some help forward from where we are, or God wouldn't have ordained this idea of the entire body, from the least to the greatest, mutually edifying itself in love.

Every sincere believer in our Lord Jesus Christ has something to offer in the way of edifying the body. The knowledgeable can share their knowledge, the compassionate their compassion, the loving their love, the zealous their zeal. Let's strive to make every word and every deed advantageous to moving the ball upfield as we seek each other's well being in the grace of God.

It is true that this analogy breaks down at some point, however. After all, some people haven't even found the playing field yet. And we just can't pick someone up and put him where we want him to be, in the time frame we want him to be there. Fortunately, we can't kick him upfield either. But Christians would never try that, right?

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