Sometimes the statement, “Clean before the Lord,” can be misconstrued as being something other than the preconceived meaning. A lot of Christians are so very proud that they are being seen as the ones who have not soiled their garments in this war against the powers and principalities of the air. I’m not talking about keeping yourself clean of sin here. I am talking about those who feel they don’t have to get into the battle to be a part of the winning team.
Give me a break while I stoop to throw up! Too often I see these holier-than-thou “Bench Sitters,” strutting around as if they were a part of the winning team. I hear ya, “Aren’t you being judgmental there, Rev., Thomp? Well….YEA! Just look at the fruits.
Let me explain. I played sports in school and I know what it is to play on the first team and be a part of a winning team. You see, the first team is the one that is counted on to win the game. They are the ones with the dirty uniforms. With the broken bones and the lacerations. The ones who are battered and bruised because they fought the good fight. They fought to win and win they must. It is their resolve to persevere till the end. These are the players who get injured and sometimes carried to the sidelines only to get up, shake it off, and get back in the game.
Sometimes members of the second team have to spell a first teamer so they can get their breath and renew their energy. These players also have a desire to win but haven’t yet acquired the skills and knowledge to step up to the first team. They are in training to move up to the front lines of the battle. Some will make it and others will fall back to the bench because they don’t have the fortitude to persevere to the end.
This brings us to those with the clean uniforms sitting on the bench. For the most part they are just observers of the action. What is it that keeps them from playing in the game?
I have come to the conclusion that for the most part it is their apathy that relegates them to the bench. Somewhere along the way they lost the desire to be on the lines and are content to warm the bench while the game plays on. Sometimes they will root for the home team. Other times they will criticize the players with, “I could do it better.” Some may stride the sidelines with their helmets off and give an occasional yelp of encouragement when it appears the team is about to make a goal or win a down. Other times they kick the ground and scoff at their teammates with, “You should have done it better!”
For the most part, these team members are not in a much better position than the fans who sit in the bleachers. They cheer or boo from a distance without getting dirty. They never get bruised or injured because they never play the game. Yet, they are the first to call out a mistake or to boo when a player falls down from the fatigue of being in the fight.
Applying this scenario to our Christian lives, it goes something like this: These folks may make it to heaven but they will be the ones who make it as escaping through a fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”)(KJV)
Okay, the game is over, your team won, the victory party has begun and rewards are to be passed out. What will be your lot? Here is where we find out what kind of team player we have been. Will you receive rewards for all the times you laid it on the line? Will your injuries and trials just be a forgotten part of what it took for you to be here to receive the rewards stored up for you on this special day? Absolutely…with victory comes the spoils and the inheritance of kingship with THE KING.
What will be the lot of the “Bench Sitters?” Yes, some will be there but they will only be able to observe the giving of the rewards to those who played in the game and gave their all to win. Their works will be burned up and they will suffer loss.
Folks, the fans and the bench sitters are in for loss. How can you expect to sit in the winner’s circle when you are too complacent or too apathetic to play in the game? What will it take to stir you action? Are you willing to sit on the bench while the game plays on? Do you enjoy the temporal comfort and safety of trolling the sidelines yelping out an occasional, “Go Team,” while your uniform stays clean and you never know the taste of blood, sweat, and tears that comes with being on the front lines of the battle?
I don’t know about you, but I am a player. I long for the front line action where I can feel I am a part of the team’s impending victory. I want to be in the front of the line at the Bema Seat Judgment when Jesus passes out our rewards. I want it all. I seek every crown that will be given out. No…not to gloat with but to have to lie at the feet of Jesus. To hear Him say, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”
I just have a hard time believing anyone would want less, but the Word tells me there will be multitudes that have no desire to play well; who are satisfied to sit on the bench and be observers.
Sit there if you must, but please, keep your traps shut while I am fighting out there. I have enough to contend with the enemy. I don’t need your advice or criticism while I am fighting for the team you claim to be a part of. You sit there and look pretty while I get bloody and dirty on your behalf. Yes, I will try harder to fill the gap you left on the front line by your absence. It may not be pretty; it might even look ugly to you but I will do the best I can. You can ride along to victory and be at the banquet but you won’t know the joy of doing your best or doing your part to share in the victory. For this, I feel sorry for you.
Thank the Lord, He is our victory and all we have to do is show up every day and do our part. I guess that is what perplexes me the most about the bench sitters. The victory is assured! Yes, we must battle daily to get to this end and we will get banged up along the way but we will win! Why would anyone in their right mind not want to be a part of the first team in an assured victory? Man…this really beats me! Reminds me of an old song, “Sitting On My Ya Ya, Waiting For My La La, uhum.
Se ya on the way up, Mud Dogs,
Rev. Lucian Thompson
Lucian Thompson is the Associate Pastor, with Trinity Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where the old time Gospel is good enough for us. He is currently working on a Master of Ministry degree and an avid student of Eschatology with major thrust of ministry geared in Outreach. He has written a fictional book titled, “Cop Out”, based on his experience as a former Chief of Police as related to the premise, “what if he were still a cop and the Rapture happened?” It is now posted as an e-book on Wisdom Farms at: http://www.wisdomfarms.com/. Look under SIMPLE LIVING and under INSPRIRATIONS FROM THE PASTOR for a free download.
Web-site: http://www.trinitychristianfellowship.net/ You can contact him via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Woo hoo! What a kick in the pants. Well done, Pastor. I've been in both places, on the bench and in the fray, and I can tell you that the only people who are happy and effective are the ones in the game (despite their injuries). Bleachers are downright uncomfortable, no matter how many pads of lies we apply to excuse our seat.
An excellant object lesson,like a parable agin soemthing I wish I had of written as a writer. I love it! It is a sobering message and I pray it speaks to any bench sitters. I mysekf will stand withthe battered and bruised but in the end I know it will be worth it all!
I long for the front line action as well!! In fact, I worry a little when the action slows down too much... as it seems to have recently. But I must have needed the break. I know the Head Coach knows best. I will just take this as a cue to take a deep breath and get ready to RUN. By the way, I find it so neat how the Lord will use so many different things to drive home a point, from gardening to football games to a summer rain... if we but listen with our hearts.
Finally, someone with a voice! In the words of Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". In today's church, I fear that we have too many "good men". Thank God that you are not one of those "good men", but a great man of God who is willing to take a stand and make a difference. This is a very thought-provoking and timely article. Great piece!
Lucian, thanks. Your courage, always undaunting, never fails to open our eyes to what it means to walk as a child of the King. Victory is ours! In our hand, because of the scars born in the hands of another. It makes me think on Jesus' words to Peter. "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." Ah, Lucian, the many, many ways we deny our Savior. For the past several years, I would awaken each morning to the sound of the cock crowing. It kept Jesus' words ever present before my heart, and set straight the path for my day. I've struggled so these past many months. Oddly, the struggle seemed to come at the same time the cock stopped crowing. And I forgot! Thank you for your words ... remembrance words. My precious Lord has a plan for me, each day ... to get off the bench and play my heart out.
Wow, Lucian! Amen, Amen, and Amen. What a great analogy.
I told a friend, "It's like the whole Christian world is full of programmed robots...the 'Stepford people', if you will. Where are the warriors?" Alas...:0(