Play the Game

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. –Matthew 5:13

Years ago, I used to be a football coach at a public high school. One year, a guy turned out for the team. He was small, not very athletic and had no previous experience playing football. At practice, this young man would routinely get the stuffing knocked out of him by the bigger guys on the team. 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 our first game of the season, I called this guy over to me and told him that I wanted him to go into the game. His response surprised me. “I don’t want to play, coach.” I thought he was afraid of getting hurt in a real game, so I didn’t press the issue.

After the game I had a talk with him. “Look,” I 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 shocked me: “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.” 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, it’s 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. 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.”

Jesus said that salt that has lost its saltiness is useless. Living the Christian life on the sidelines 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.

Today, get in the game!

1. In your Christian life experience, have you been more “on the sidelines” or more “in the game”?

2. What actions can you take today to move from the sidelines into the game?

Philippians 3:12-14; 1 Timothy 6:11-12

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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