A month or so ago I found myself sitting on the bleachers in a gymnasium, waiting for a basketball game to start. I watched the floor as the assistant coach took the team through rigorous drills. He commanded and the team responded immediately. They didn’t care what they looked like or who was watching. As soon as their leader barked an order, they obeyed. That same immediate obedience and passion continued as the team played the game. Each player always had an ear out for what the head coach was shouting to them and obeyed his instructions. We all know this is really the only way a team can be successful. If one of them would have decided not to listen to the coach, it would have caused disorganization at the very least and chaos at most.
It was a team of high school boys and I couldn’t help but reflect on how often boys that age don’t want to be told what to do. So why were they so acquiescent for these coaches? I believe it is because playing basketball is something they love to do. The cost of obedience and hard work was worth the opportunity to play a sport they enjoy.
I couldn’t help but compare that to how we follow Jesus. We say we love Him and yet, so many of us want to listen to our own voices instead of His. We take Bible verses out of context and instead of obeying what it is truly commanding, we devise meanings that soothe our souls. And, in the meantime, the body of Christ reaps the harm of our personal choices.
We often choose to not obey, or perhaps partially obey:
“God, I will give you this $100, but I just can’t afford to give 10% all of the time.”
“God, I know that you have blessed me with this comfortable home, but I just don’t have the energy to host anyone.”
“God, I know you have given me a healthy, strong body and that there is something I could be doing to minister in my church, but I just don’t have time.”
“God, I know you call me to live a pure and holy life, but the entertainment of today is just so funny and it is only portraying real life.”
Of course, there would be many more examples. And we end up hurting not only ourselves but our team (the body of Christ) with our selfishness and our insistence to do things our own way. And I can’t help but go back to the question of why.
The basketball players obey because they love the game of basketball. Many of us claim to love Jesus, but we do not want the obedience and call to selfless and holy living that goes along with that claim. Oh, we want the perks of peace and joy and eternal life. But we would prefer to ignore the commands like deny ourselves (Luke 9:23), to be generous (2 Cor 9:5), to live a holy life (Ephesians 1:4), and that we should not love the world or the things in it (I John 2:15), just to name a few. We are called to completely surrender our lives to Christ.
So I look way down deep in my heart and ask the question: Do I love Jesus enough to follow without question or exception? Or am I squirming and questioning when it gets inconvenient and uncomfortable and costs me something? It is a sobering thought.