Last week we discussed the enemies distractions from “outside the lines” in the game of life - things that keep us from being actively engaged in God’s “game plan.” This week I’m reminded that sometimes we can be “inside the lines” playing hard but still getting nowhere…
In basketball it is very common for me to talk to players about keeping things simple and not making the game harder than it has to be. Players run the risk of over-dribbling or over-passing; players fail to take the shortest path to get to the basket; players fail to get to their spots on defense and instead tend to chase the opponent; players try to get fancy with scoop shots or add in unnecessary pumps when they should have simply gone straight to the rim… again often making the game harder than it needs to be!
In the church today I fear that we are so intent on what we can do to make things more attractive, that we end up “over-dribbling” and not “getting to the goal.” We can put a lot of effort and planning into all we do while sometimes forgetting that the Word is living and powerful and able to transform lives! We need to be careful to not let style trump substance… We need to be careful not to let busywork trump what we have been commissioned to do!
But my biggest concern is with the Gospel itself! There are so many philosophies on how to effectively share and we forget that the Gospel message itself packs the “power of God” (Romans 1:16)! The proclamation of the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection is first priority in our message and plan! (See 1 Corinthians 15:3 for what Paul delivered as of first importance.)
We need to get to the “goal” of being “witnesses” (Acts 1:8) to our world. We need to avoid a couple serious issues:
1. Avoid allowing our philosophies to be “noise” that interferes with a straightforward proclamation of truth.
- 1 Corinthians 2 1-2 You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. (The Message)
2. Avoid adding to the simple truth of what Christ has done for us by making it seem like we have to do something for Him to earn it….
- Acts 15 (the Apostles have been dealing with the issue of messages adding to the grace of God and determine the following) 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,
“Inside the lines” we need to be careful to stay focused on the “game plan”…