In or Out of Uniform
On a Friday evening at the OÕConnell Center in Gainesville, Florida, the 2006 NCAA MenÕs Basketball Tournament champions were introduced to a proud house of Gator faithful Š all Rowdy Reptiles this night. Sunshine Network, spreading the cheer from coast to coast to coast, televised the celebration. After introducing the entire staff, the players walked down from two spots on either side of the stage. Not one of the squad was in uniform, but everyone watching knew they were basketball players. As they made their way down the steps of the OÕDome Š one at a time Š each team member hi-fived fans whose March Madness now thundered into April showers of praise. All the hard work, along with the leadership of head coach Billy Donovan, may flower into a reign of roundball rule.
While the festivities continued in Gatorland, a cloud hung over Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The menÕs Lacrosse team was implicated in a gang rape, and 46 of 47 members of the team had to provide a DNA sample to authorities. The entire team denied the allegation, but as they awaited results, there was no joy in Mudville. The Sunshine Network did not cover their plight that night, but every major network across the land did.
As Christians, we are all members of the church, GodÕs team of faithful followers that was purchased by the blood of Christ. He has made us holy, or uniformed us in His righteousness, and since He is head of the church, Jesus rules as our head coach. He has a plan, which will succeed, and He decides who plays what position, at what venue, and for how long. Although we donÕt have an outward uniform that we all wear on earth, we are identified as His team by the way we conduct ourselves on the courts of the world.
As we strive to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, blunders will be made. Some mistakes, though still sins before God, wonÕt jeopardize our corporate witness to the masses as much as other more flagrant violations that the world elevates to condemnatory categories. However, individual fouls we commit in our neighborhood, or our failure to come off the bench in time of need, do matter. ThatÕs why Paul, another fiery coach from the Southeast Conference, urges us to live lives that bring honor to God, for the world watches.
As the men of Durham stand accused and in need of prayer, we all stand in need of prayer, as well. Although the devil accuses us of wrongdoing daily, Jesus is always interceding in prayer for us at the right hand of the Father. As a team, we need to stand in prayer for those on the team who are struggling with sin in their lives. Since all of us battle the sinful nature until death, we all need to be uplifted by others. Different things may tempt us as we go through life, but we are all tempted. Thank God He never allows us to be tempted beyond what we can handle, for in Christ, we are more than champions!
Mountain Time Moment
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind
of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
Ephesians 5:3 NIV
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