Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lessons from the Rangers…

As I sat at a Ranger game, I was amazed at the crowd.  Thousands of people piling into a stadium to see men compete against the enemy using their talents, gifts and abilities. No formal invitation, no “guest-list”, no “who’s-who” of attendees, and yet thousands knew and arrived to watch the game.  Once there, a mass mentality came over people.  With just 6 notes from the organ the entire stadium erupted with the response of “charge”!  A message ran across the banner of “MAKE SOME NOISE” and they would rise to their feet screaming and cheering and clapping.  Let their favorite player make a good play and their name was chanted over and over.  And heaven forbid the opposing team hit a home run, the person who caught it was peer pressured with “THROW IT BACK” and upon throwing it back, some other group would start screaming for the ball girl to throw it to them as if “if they don’t want it I’ll take it” after cheering them to get rid of it.  The American game.  And let it be noted, I was in that crowd and was up and cheering the Rangers on with the rest of them!

Here is what struck me…and there are some random thoughts here, so stick with me.  First, comparing game attendance to church attendance.  Why is it that we will flock to the stadium, but to the church we almost need an invitation handwritten in calligraphy, sealed and personally delivered.  Why don’t we just know when the game is and show up ready to cheer on the ones who have been gifted and called to lead the mornings worship and preach the Lord’s message?  Why aren’t we warmed up and ready to participate in the game by cheering them on with a hearty “amen” or participating in the worship with our entire heart.  Why aren’t we wearing our teams “colors” with pride?

Second, the mass mentality.  At first thought, it would be GREAT to have that mind control over the entire body.  Amen’s on cue, stand up, sit down, TITHE, even throw in the chicken dance every now and then just for the preachers entertainment.  But wouldn’t church be easy.  Get the whole crowd fired up and at the sound of the organ, “charge”.  But our God doesn’t work that way.  And thank goodness He doesn’t.  He is the owner who does send out those personal invitations.  Every person is important to Him as an individual. 

I giggle as I think of that 6 note run before the “charge” erupting. Where is our battle cry?  How loudly are we proclaiming it in our churches?  Do we even know who our opponent is for sure?  And do we realize that He is already defeated?  Our battle cry of “charge” is in reference to ourselves…charge out, charge onward, charge to the hurting, charge to the lost and dying all around us. 

The best picture though is of this stadium of witnesses to the battle below.  You see, God’s Word tells us there is such a thing.  Only in the Bible’s story, we are on the playing field, and the cloud of witnesses are those who have gone before us in faith, led the way, blazed the trail, charged ahead.  Can you picture with your spiritual eyes a crowd watching your life as you are on the field, called to use your talents, gifts and abilities to the glory of the owner of our team, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  You are called to proudly wear the teams color of crimson right along with Him.  You are being cheered on by a stadium full of witnesses who are calling out your name in delight as you move forward through the game.  When the enemy “hits one out of the park” against you, they don’t throw it back, they hold on to it dearly as a spiritual marker for the next time when you make the play at the wall.  This great cloud of witnesses are not nameless thousands.  They are named, and described, and documented in the book of Life all throughout history, and there are even some given in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

Go out to the game.  Whether you cheer on someone else God is using at the moment, or you run out onto the field yourself, know that God is with you, He has invited you to participate in this game individually and by name, and He is the owner of the team that has EVERY-season tickets and eternal membership.