Soccer. Just the word makes me want to go to sleep. I’m sorry to all you soccer fans out there, but until a few weeks ago, I would rather go to a dentist appointment than watch a soccer match. I mean, what is the fun in watching people run up and down the field kicking a ball. It’s almost as bad as watching NASCAR. Okay, so I’ve offended two sets of fans, but what is the fun of watching cars drive around an oval track?
Anyway, I said that I wasn’t a soccer fan until a few weeks ago. What happened? Hayes, my oldest granddaughter, started playing soccer. It’s funny how that changes things, but I have been to more soccer games in the last few weeks than I have attended the prior 53 years of my life. And it has been fun. Now I will admit to you that Hayes is not the best player on the team. I’ve mentioned this before, but when she started, she was very polite. By that, I mean she wouldn’t try to take the ball away from anyone. If someone else was there, she would let them kick the ball. Now, she gave it 100%. She ran up and down the field with the group, but in the first few games, I don’t think she even touched the ball.
But this last game on Saturday, everything changed. It was like a light bulb went off in her head, and she got it. She was right in the mix, kicking the ball. At one point, she took the ball the length of the field. Now, she kicked it out of bounds and not into the goal, but man, it was fun to watch. What happened? I don’t know, but suddenly, she understood what she was supposed to be doing.
Sometimes I think that’s the way it is in church. Church people will give 100% running up and down the field, but for some reason, they don’t truly engage with the mission of the church. They join in worship, singing the songs and listening attentively to the messages. They even go to small groups and participate in discussions, but they never kick the ball. Now some of you are reading this and saying, “What does that mean? I thought that church was all about singing, listening, and discussing.” My friend, that’s only part of the mission of the church. Just as in soccer, you can kick the ball up and down the field, but if you never kick it into the goal, what’s the point. So what is the goal? What is the mission of the church? Very simply it is making disciples of Jesus out of people who have never had a relationship with Him. It is reaching them in their “lost” condition when they are separated from God by their sins. It is leading them to understand what the Bible says about that relationship being about God’s grace gift to us – the offer of forgiveness and eternal life – through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. It is about believing that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for your sins but then rose from the dead proving that death and sin had been conquered by Him. It is receiving His forgiveness and professing to all the world that you have given your life back to God, surrendered to Him as Lord and Savior. Once we have reached them in their lost condition, we must teach them what it means to be a Christian so that they can reach others in their lost condition and teach them what it means to be a Christian. That is what I mean by kicking the ball.
When I saw Hayes get it, when she understood what Soccer was all about, I was thrilled, but nothing is more thrilling to me than to see the light come on in the eyes of a new believer and they start kicking the ball down the field. I know it’s only a matter of time before they score!