I loved attending college at the University of Alabama. The beauty of the campus and the great people there made my tenure at the University a joy to attend. But one of the biggest reasons I loved Alabama was for its prestige and tradition, particularly in the area of football. The University of Alabama is legendary when it comes to their domination on the grid iron. To date the school boasts of fifteen National titles, holding the record of championships in college football. Names like Paul “Bear” Bryant and Gene Stallings among others have led the Tide in many victories and cementing the school and themselves into an almost mythical status among the South Eastern Conference as well as the entire collegiate landscape.
I had played a bit of high school football. And upon moving to Tuscaloosa to go to school at U of A, I toyed with the idea of actually trying out for the football team. How neat it would have been to claim that I was on the Alabama Crimson Tide’s football team. So much glory and honor was shown towards the men that were on that team. So many privileges were given to those who were on the football team, not to mention the great respect one receive just by saying that they played football for Alabama. But being on the football team at Alabama was work. Hard work. While most college students enjoyed massive amounts of free time to themselves, the football players were obedient to the will of their coach so that the University would continue its legacy in college football.
Now I could have just said that I was on the football team. I could have told my classmates that I loved the team and that I was a team mate. But in reality, I wasnt on the team. And me simply professing that I was a football player would fool no one. I did not go to practices, I didnt go to the team workouts, and I didnt help the team win any of their National titles. I could have said I was a member of the team, but I had no championship rings to show for it. I reaped none of the good benefits that the real team members did from being true football player. Because I was not a football player.
Scripture states that, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” But what about those who do not love God? Most everyone says that they love God. But true love for God requires work. Just like those who are truly on a college football team must be obedience to the demands of their coach in order to receive glory, so must a Christian heed the commands of the Lord. In our world today, everyone says that they are a christian. Everyone wants that title, and the peace of mind that they will inherit the glories of God the Father as a result of their confession. But they live life on their terms. In football terminology, they dont attend the practices, they dont study the playbook, and they really have no true love for the coach. In their minds, they have convinced themselves that because they go to church occasionally and claim the title of Christian, that this alone makes them a true believer, And its a lie from Satan himself that is deceiving so many in our world today.
I heard a noted theologian once ask the question, “Have you ever wondered why we say that there is a stairway to Heaven and a Highway to Hell? Its because Hell has more travelers going that way, and it takes effort to climb the stairway.” Obedience and living a life committed to Jesus is not easy. Its not just reciting a few words and saying an oath or prayer. Its having a true love for our King Jesus Christ. So much so that you are willing to sacrifice and forsake the enticing ways of our evil world in exchange for the glory that He will receive and the promises of reward that are in the future of every believer.
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” 1 John 5:2-4.
If we are truly members of the body of Christ, we are obedient to the commands of God. And to be obedient and be victorious in the game, you must love the play book. How many professing “Christians” have a true love for the word of God? So much so that they hunger to know what pleases the heart of God? For many people in our world, the word of God is considered a burden. Sadly even for many professing believers this is true. They claim to love Jesus but consider His word burdensome and look for any excuse not to be in the word daily.
But did you notice what the verse in 1 John said? It said that His commands…His word…is not burdensome to them. Because they understand that His word brings life to that which was once dead! Do you claim to be a Christian? And if so, do you delight in the word of the Lord? Is obedience to the commands of God a burden to you? Or are they, as King David said in the Psalms, like honey on your lips?
I dont write this to condemn but rather prod every person that professes to be a Christian to examine themselves in light of scripture. Is your profession to be a Christian a true one, or are you like a college student who admires the football players, and because he wants the same glory they receive, will claim that he is a football player, but in reality is not even on the team?
This brings us full circle back to my question. Lets read the verse….
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.
So, do all things work together for the good of everyone? The scriptures say only for those who love God. But it goes even deeper than this. Not every person who says they are a Christian will have all things work out for good, because as we’ve seen through the example of a football player, not everyone who says that they are a Christian is actually a Christian according to scripture.
And the good that we so eagerly anticipate as believers is not speaking of a worldly prosperity. In fact, the greatest good that we could ever receive is spending eternity with God the Father! That is why Paul said that we should rejoice in suffering, because our earthly suffering will give way to Heavenly reward.
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5.
Are you truly on the team, or is it just a false claim? Do you love His word, and do you seek daily to see how you can press further into obedience to God? Examine your claim. Following Christ is the greatest sacrifice you will ever make. But it leads to the greatest love you will ever know. The coach is blowing the whistle. Its time to step onto the practice field. Are you on the team?