Christian sports, Christians in sports, End Times, Evangelism, fear and evangelizing, fearless evangelizing, how do I evangelize?, Isaiah 50, Jesus is coming back soon, Jesus' immanent return, Jesus' Return, Last Days, last of the last days, Philippians 3, preaching the Gospel, Press on toward the goal, Setting our face as a flint, the Great Commission
Those of you who have played sports or ever given an oral presentation or been in a play or sung a solo or preached a sermon for the first time will understand what I am about to say. Do you recall the first time you preached? Do you remember playing basketball in front of all those people? Do you remember how you felt? Scared to death? Nervous? Sweaty? Excited? Shaking all over? Breathing hard? Heart racing? Couldn’t sit still on the bench? Energetic?
Now on top of that, did you ever experience going to the play-offs or a championship game? Was the speech you gave extremely important, even before a special group of people? The sermon, was it potentially offensive but you knew God inspired you to preach it? Was the solo for a holiday performance or singing the star spangled banner before an event? Now that’s pressure!
What causes that pressure and intensity of emotion is the desperate need to succeed. We all inwardly are fearful of falling flat on our faces, of looking foolish, of saying the wrong thing, singing off key, missing the final foul shot, and this increases and fuels our fear. Doesn’t it?
But, what if we knew before the championship game even started that we were going to win, that we were going to make that winning shot? What if we knew before the important speech that people would be greatly impacted in a good way by what we said? What if we knew in advance that the sermon we were about to preach would indeed powerfully transform the life of those truly listening? What if we knew before the solo that we would sing perfectly, hitting ever note, and that the hearts of those listening would be stirred? Wouldn’t we approach the whole thing differently? Perhaps we wouldn’t be as nervous or fearful or sweaty or shaky or trepidacious? Think about it. If we knew that we’d already succeeded, wouldn’t we be more relaxed, have more fun, be more confident, enjoy the moment to its fullest? Yes, yes, and yes.
Now, what if we apply this same “we’ve already won” concept to our Christian walk and witness? Jesus paid the price. Jesus overcame the world. Jesus promises us eternity in heaven to those who believe. The Holy Spirit is our helper, our comforter, and the One who empowers us. Heaven is our home. We are ambassadors of a Kingdom that is from above. We are the servants and fellow heirs with the King of that eternal, heavenly Kingdom. We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who loves us, and God has His Holy Spirit available to empower us to be His witnesses, to give us the words to say.
Why then are we afraid to witness to our neighbors and coworkers and grocery story clerks or people standing in line to pick up lunch? Why are we hesitating to share the Gospel with those around us who are fearful of what is happening in this COVID-19 world? It is time to quit begin afraid of witnessing for Jesus. It is time to quit being tentative about evangelizing. It is time to quit being afraid of persecution of any kind. It is time to quit trying to please men and be liked by others instead of God. It is time to live our faith with faith that we’ve already won, to live our faith out loud.
We are in the last of the Last Days. We are past the 2 minute warning in the football game and have entered the final seconds of the game. Yes, everything is looking really bad. The other team is ahead, full of energy, shouting out degrading, derogatory phrases, emboldened and ready to steal, kill and destroy us. We already know we’re going to get one more touchdown. We already know we’re going to win the game. So, why are we focused on the play of the enemy: the so-called COVID pandemic, the election, the demise of the world, even our own personal problems? It’s time to get refocused on the play that we’re to run: the Gospel. We are to declare the Gospel such as never before in our lives. We are to live it, breathe it, speak it without waver. After all, we’ve won.
Our team has multiple injuries, and some of our top players are benched for various reasons. Now Coach has called many of us reserves to get out on the field. And the crowd — the great cloud of witnesses — is cheering us on in spite of the score, excited that we’ve entered the game. The roar is deafening. Can you hear it? The Coach has called the play, and though we are nervous and excited at the same time, we know it by heart. And if we’ve forgotten, then this is our reminder. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel. And then the end shall come.” (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10; Matthew 28:18-20).
No, not everyone will not immediately convert because we tell them about Jesus or that Jesus is coming back soon, but then, conversion is not our part anyway. Sharing the Gospel is. Planting the seed of the Gospel is. Watering the seed of the Gospel is (1 Corinthians 3). But, the conversion part is the Holy Spirit’s part — God adds the increase. Let’s not focus on the Holy Spirit’s part. Furthermore, it is not about people liking us. It is not a popularity contest. If it were then Jesus lost big time — they crucified Him. Jesus is the rock of offense, but that same truth that is offensive is there to set free those who will be free indeed. So, let’s shake off the rejection and get out there and do our part in the play that the Coach has assigned us. Let us play our part well! And may we be ever mindful that the game is won. So, relax, breathe, and proclaim the truth with boldness and fervor because the clock is ticking and the game is nearly over.
Again, the Coach has called “YOU” — whoever you are — to get off the bench and get in the game. Let’s not be overthinking our part to play. Let’s not be trying to do someone else’s part. Let’s not be trying to re-write the play. Let’s not be overwhelmed with what the enemy is attempting or saying or doing. He’s already lost. Let’s forget about what others might think. Let’s tune out the enemies’ voices. Let’s set our face as a flint, and press on toward the goal for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3). And we shall tread on serpents and scorpions, and stand in the authority of the Lord, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against us! (Luke 10:19; Matthew 16:18).
Even so, let’s play the game like we’ve already won it. Now is the time. There will be no other.
“For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.8 He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.9 Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.10 Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Isaiah 50:7-10).