Counting the Cost: Football Practice vs. Games, Serving Jesus When Its Tough

Posted: February 15, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Luke 10:1-16 — As we continue our look at Luke 10:1-16, today we are going to concentrate on Luke 10:3. Jesus says, “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Wow, that’s sound pretty inviting!

It reminds me of the football practice through the years. Football practice is where you spend most of your time on a football team. It is not fun. It is painful at times. Guys, you remember the exercise called “six inches” when you were laying flat on your back and had to hold your legs up off the ground but only at six inches off the ground. The coaches would make us hold our legs like that for about 20-30 seconds at a time. It was ok for the first two or three times you did it but we would have to do it like twenty times. By the time you got past the first two or three sets, the pain would set in and you thought you were going to die or at least puke. Either one would be acceptable! We would be put through some tough, tough exercises during football practice particularly at the beginning of the season. It was to get us in to playing shape. It was to teach us discipline. If we did not have practice, we would not have games. Playing the games each week was a welcome relief from the grueling grind of daily practice. Each year, there would be those who would quit because the daily grind was too tough. They weren’t willing to pay the cost of being on the football team. What stood between you at the beginning of each week and the glory of the lights on game night was a lot of hard work that nobody saw except your teammates. Some just were not willing to go through the gauntlet of practice. It was too tough of a calling for some. This is true whether its pee wee, junior, high school, college or pro football. Those who have the love and the passion for the game are willing to pay any cost to be able to play the game. As the stakes get higher at each level, those who are willing to pay the cost are fewer and fewer.

That point, the willing few, is kind of the point of Jesus’ statement here. Yesterday’s devotional was about the fact that the harvest was plentiful but the workers were few. The workers are few we learn today because the work is hard. Jesus says “Go!” He says that a lot. He has an expectation that we are not to simply sit still. We are not to rest on our laurels. We are to go forth and make disciples. He also says that He is sending us out like lambs among wolves. Lambs as you know are gentle creatures and just not well equipped by their mental nature or by their physical abilities to defend themselves against attack. They are easy pickings for a pack of wolves – they always hunt together. They surround their prey on all sides and slowly decrease the circle and then pounce on their prey. Jesus is saying that our work will be hard. There will be rejection, persecution, ridicule and sometimes even death in spreading the gospel message. In modern day America, where we are all about luxury and satisfying ourselves, this just doesn’t sound all that appealing. That’s why the workers are few. Jesus says if you are really my disciple, if you really love me, you will be willing to pay the price. We are lambs. We go in peace. We do not spread the gospel by war, with guns, terrorist attacks, exploding roadside bombs, by beheading people, or any other warring means. We spread the gospel in peace. We teach people of the love of God as expressed through His Son Jesus Christ in whom and through whom we find salvation and eternal reconciliation with God. The job is not fancy. The job is not to make headlines but rather quietly, softly spread the gospel message. If we are in it to be seen, it is like a football player only wanting to play on game night and not wanting to be there at practice during the week.

Jesus tells us to go where the wolves are. He tells us to go into the world and be Jesus to a world that is trying to tear Him down every day. Jesus tells us to stand up and be counted. We are to in the culture and not of it. We are to lovingly share the gospel with the world but we are not to compromise the message. We must be willing to address the hard issues out there that stand squarely against the Bible and not shy away from them. We must not avoid these issues just to fit in. We must not avoid these issues to be culturally relevant. God’s Word is timeless and so are its standards. Culture’s standard are lowered with each generation. So, what culture used to reject it now accepts. What was once considered wrong is now acceptable. It is shifting sand while God’s Word is a solid rock that will never be moved. This will bring us into conflict with culture at times. We stand not with fists raised or with guns in our hands. We stand like lambs. We are His lambs.

Jesus tells us to go where the wolves are. He tells us to take the gospel to the places that it will be attacked. We take the Bible to the hard places. We take the Bible to the places that are difficult, both here at home and abroad. We take the Bible to the homeless shanty towns in the Upstate. We take the Bible to China. We take the Bible to North Korea. We take the Bible to Hindu nations. We take the Bible to Buddhist nations. We take the Bible to Islamic nations. It is similar to Kennedy’s space program speech at Rice University in September 1962, where he said,

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win”

The harvest is plentiful but the number of workers willing to put forth the effort are few. How many of us are willing to let souls pass into eternity without hearing of the Word of God that is encapsulated in Jesus Christ? How willing are you to spread the gospel? How many of us are willing to put ourselves out to spread the gospel? How many of us are willing to do the unseen work of the gospel in the places where we live, work, and play much less spreading the gospel in ways and/or in places that make us uncomfortable? How many of us are going to put ourselves out to serve the Lord? How many of us have the attitude that I will do these things later? How many of us have the attitude that sharing the gospel in that way is just not my cup of tea? How many are the few. How many of us are willing to go through the pain of the long days of practice to get to the 3 hours of game time on Friday night? How many are the few?

Father in heaven, awaken our souls that you never said that serving you was just when it was convenient and painless. Awaken our souls to the tough work of spreading the gospel. Give us the passion to do what is necessary regardless of the cost, regardless of how inconvenient it is, regardless of how difficult it is, regardless of whether we get praise of men for it or not, regardless of whether anyone is looking or not, regardless of what we have to give up or not, regardless, regardless. Give us the passion for the hard work because we love the game, the game of seeing lost souls out there, and there are too many, come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Savior. That’s game night. That’s what all the hard work, pain and suffering are for, Lord. People coming to know you through Your Son!

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