"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, April 25, 2005

From the Mouth of a Child

One of the advantages of living in a fairly small town is that you can go spend the evening at the ballpark and know most of the people who are there. They either go to your church, or live in your neighborhood, shop in the same grocery store or you see them at some of the local restaurants. It is a good way to spend a spring evening when you just want to be outside to just go sit and watch some softball games.

Last week, I was at the ballfield to watch several of our church teams play. As the schedule called for, two of our teams will play each other in the upcoming weeks. When this was pointed out, it became a point of discussion between everyone and the good-natured (hopefully) taunting began. During the midst of all the talk and threats, Joe's oldest son, Hunter, came up to him and asked, "Dad, do you mean that two teams from Salem will be playing each other?" Joe replied that this was correct to which Hunter replied, "so, then it doesn't really matter who wins, does it?"

That one simple remark from a young boy caused me to think about how much more wisdom he had that many of the adults in the crowd (hmmm....almost said congregation. That's curious). There will be those who take that game seriously and want to win so that it is known that they beat the other church team and beat them badly. There will be those who continue to rub the victory in to an extreme and cause some strain within friendships and the fellowship of a church league. There will be those who take the game far too seriously and question the umpire and coach rulings much more than they would if it were not a team from there own church on the field. However, to be fair, the large majority of folks, players and fans, will see it just as a game and thoroughly enjoy the time of healthy competition. These are two teams from within our own congregation of believers, our own fellowship, so why does it have to matter so much who wins?

To go to the next step, all the teams we play are other churches in the county. Spiritually speaking, we are all part of the same fellowship of believers, just meeting in different locations. Why should that be any different than when we play against our own church teams? We are all here to primarily give praise to God, worship Him and lead others to a knowledge and awareness of Christ. We should intentionally be using our ministries as an outreach tool to reach others in our community. Yet, so often, they see two Christian church teams arguing and complaining about parts of the game to the point where their witness and testimony is harmed. We are to be "the Light, a beacon set on the Hill, set apart"; you know the scriptures. Even at church league games, there are people without Christ who need to see that there is a difference in our lives.

Hang with me folks, but, going one more step up..... does the Christian Church get so caught up in denominationalism at times that we forget that we are all still on the same team? At times, you'll see Methodists and Baptists, Presbyterians and Assembly of Gods, all trying to compete with each other when, again, we're playing for the same team. Our paths may differ somewhat because one church sings a certain Doxology, another recites a certain Creed or Statement of Faith, one may exhibit more spiritual gifts, one may serve communion more often, but we are all still serving the same God. We're all playing on the same field, so what does it ultimately matter? Should there even be a winner when the Judgement Day comes? Will God reward the Baptists because there are more of them there than there are from another Christian denomination? I don't think so. My Bible says that we will ALL stand before the Throne, not sorted into denominational entities. No one's house will be bigger than another just because you might use real wine instead of grape juice (or in the case of one of my churches whose Pastor called for a communion service at the last minute.... we got Crystal Light Tea in the little plastic cups).

We need to just chill out and enjoy the games of life. Enjoy the fellowship with fellow believers in other congregations. Enjoy the walk with God, laugh with Him as He teaches us what he need to learn (for I know He laughs at some of my mishaps), let Him take us where He wants, smell the smells and hear the sounds that He brings our way, just relax in His arms and go with the ride. It will be more exciting than anything you can find at any amusement park. This, my friends, I can promise.

When we can come to that day, then I do not believe it will really matter who wins.

And this, my friends, is the gospel according to Jimmy (and Hunter).

Be God's,


At 4:45 PM, Blogger shannon said...

What an excellent post, Jimmy. I enjoyed your preaching! :) In our own hometown, there's a large church who warns their members to avoid ours because, as they say, "You'll only get milk at that church." The funny thing is, my husband teaches 45-50 minutes every Sunday straight through the scriptures, avoiding nothing controversial, and giving out the full counsel of God's Word. (This same church teaches its members that they are the one true church ... except one in California and one on the East coast that are okay to join, if you can't live here.) I'm just so grieved by the pettiness that is so common in the church today. I hope many read your post and search their hearts.

Bless you--and bless that little Hunter. :)

At 3:16 PM, Blogger The Complimenting Commenter said...

You have used a great analogy on religion today. Very well written.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger JOE B said...

Do I get a prize for being your 4000th visitor?
Just wondering,

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Jimmy said...

Joey, in honor of your milestone accomplishment, you will win a dozen eggs to be used for your heart's desire. Free and clear, no strings attached.

At 5:01 PM, Blogger JOE B said...

Sweet! I had a dozen, I just can not remember where I put them.


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