Sorry to keep you from the football game,” responded the family I had planned to meet after worship.
“There’s plenty of game to watch. We won’t know if it gets interesting until the 4th quarter anyway,” I replied.
I love a good football game. I remember going to high school football games when I was too young to fully understand how the game worked. I would sit in the bleachers with an adult friend from church who knew the game and could interpret the hand signals of the officials when a yellow flag was tossed.
Most of the other adults, including my parents, would sit in the reserved seats. They had a little better vantage point as they were a bit higher. The bleachers were closer to the sidelines. You could hear the impact of the football players and the yelling of the coaches. My friend, Jerry, liked being closer to the action. I liked being with Jerry.
As much as I like a good game, I like interacting with people. When meeting with the family that Sunday, I really wasn’t concerned that I was missing the first half of the game. I had enjoyed our give and take about confirmation. We talked about faith and how we ultimately need to be personally accountable for the journey our parents started us on when we were baptized. But my response to their apology kept playing in my head as I went home to turn on the TV.
When we get to the 4th quarter, the winner of the game has either already been decided, or it will be decided in a more exciting fashion in the final 15 minutes of play. I recognize that every moment of the game is important for the players and the coaches. In fact, all the moments leading up to the game are maybe even more critical. Without a game plan, proper physical conditioning, and practice as a team, the execution at game time will not be adequate. That is the difference between spectators and players. Spectators have the luxury of waiting to plug in for the final quarter. Players have to play the whole game and equip themselves to do their best.
I wonder sometimes if we treat our life more as a spectator than an actual player; maybe even more so if our journey of faith is what we need to do our best at living. We show up when the game is on the line, rather than prepare to play the whole game. I have witnessed the difference between those who have exercised their faith over time and those who assumed their faith would be adequate when things in their life were on the line. It would be kind of like someone thinking that because they played flag football in grade school it would equip them to jump in during the 4th quarter of an NFL showdown.
Are we going to be specta– tors or players when it comes to faith? Think about it the next time you sit down to watch your favorite team.