Winning Team

from Henry Neufeld

Only conduct yourself in a way that is worthy of the good news about Christ, so that whether I come and see you or whether I’m away and hear about you, you’ll be standing in one spirit, struggling together like one person for the faith that is the good news.  — Philippians 1:27

The gospel message is a demanding message, not because it asks us to earn salvation, but because salvation itself changes us.  The greatness of the gift of salvation demands great change in us.  Conducting ourselves in a way that is worthy of the good news means that we must allow God to work fully in us.

But the key element here is that those who come under the power of the gospel must begin to stand together, to be guided by one Spirit—the Holy Spirit—and to work together.  The Greek word I’ve translated “struggle together” above is the same word from which we get the English word “athletics.”  It refers to a simple concept—teamwork.  While it’s a simple concept, teamwork isn’t an easy thing.

I’ve been thinking about the world series a bit and even writing about it on my Threads blog,  What is the key element to being successful in an athletic contest?  Many people seem to think it’s star power, but I think it’s teamwork.  That applies to your daily life at work, and also to your spiritual life.

First, you have the ultimate teamwork with Jesus, in which you let him make those critical calls and you just follow the plan.

Second, there’s the teamwork with the other folks who are on the Jesus team.  This is much harder.

In baseball when the coach is calling for the batter to swing for the fence, that’s something a player wants to do.  Additional hits, RBIs, and home runs look good on your stats.  But what happens if the signal is a sacrifice bunt?  Those who follow the game closely know that a sacrifice can be very important in winning a game, but for some reason when a new batter comes to the plate, the scoreboard reads RBIs and home runs.  I’ve never seen them post the number of sacrifices at that point.

In our spiritual life, it’s nice to be called to a position of importance, to a place where people will notice how spiritual we are.  But what happens if it’s our job to make someone else look good?  What if we’re called to clean the church so the great evangelist can preach?  What if we’re called to change the letter on the sign so people will come into the church?  What if we’re just called to hand $5.00 to the person who needs food for lunch?

Doing the task of the gospel as one person means simply that we don’t care which part we are called to play.  We care only that the “good news” team wins.  To do that, we’ll do whatever it takes.

Let’s work together on Jesus’ team.

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