Defense, Offense or Sidelines?


Tonight will be a milestone for many NFL athletic hopefuls—Draft Day!  In most cases they have trained, practiced and played the game with singular dedication for over a decade—sacrificing many other teenage options to “give themselves” to the game of football.  Some of them are offensive specialists.  They attack with the strength and skills they have developed seeking to do their part to move the ball down the field for a score.

Others are defensive specialists.  They attack the offensive players with their strength and skills, striving to prevent the offense from scoring and returning the ball to their offense as soon as possible.  Whether offensive or defensive specialists, they will now try to replace a veteran player on the roster of the pro team that drafted them.  That roster only has room for 50 players when the dust of the pre-season try-out settles.

Some of these dedicated, strong and skilled players will be drafted later and some will try to make a professional team as free agents.  But the vast majority of the players who played in the college ranks last year will migrate to the sidelines.  Some will move away from football altogether, some will coach or administrate, but they won’t join the ranks of NFL players.

We are engaged in a spiritual contest.  There is a battle for the hearts and souls of all the people who populate our world.  But in our case there is no roster limit. God invites all to join His team and contribute to the victory.  Matthew’s gospel gives us this summary of Jesus’ initial wave of ministry, closing with the call for laborers…

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”      Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)

There are many kinds of labor for the workers to do.  We all have diverse gifts, talents and resources that can be used to bring Jesus’ compassion to people. Like a successful sports team, our unique capacities complement one another so that when we work in harmony we maximize our impact.  When we labor in isolation or only with those exactly like us, we are likely to be minimally effective.

What should we do?  First, we need to commit to something.  Are we serving the Lord or not?  Are we engaged in the battle or not?  Next we need to assess our unique set of skills, talents, and resources.  As with sports or military service, we need to train to equip ourselves.  On a trip earlier this month I read “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” by Nabeel Qureshi.  He was brought up by devout Pakistani Muslim parents who had emigrated to the U.S.  They had trained him to defend his faith (defensive tactics) and to try to convince others to embrace Islam (offensive tactics).  As I read his story of coming to faith in Jesus, I was impressed by the person God used to build a relational bridge to him as a college student and how that friend engaged in offense and defense for the Christian faith as they carried on a four-year dialogue.  Such a dialogue fits Jesus’ call for “workers” to enter the harvest field.

We want to help believers engage with God in His eternal purposes.  If you attend CrossRoads and have not attended in the past, I encourage you to attend our InRoads Brunch on Saturday May 13th, from 10AM-Noon.  In a relaxed discussion format, it provides you the opportunity to interact with the staff here at CrossRoads.  We will provide you with information about our leaders; our vision, mission and core beliefs; our strategy for ministry; and plenty of opportunity to ask questions.  You may have been attending CrossRoads for years, but never really become part of the team, others may have only recently started.  In either case, I hope you won’t miss the opportunity to join the team and start being that unique part of the work crew God is calling you to fulfill.  If you haven’t signed up for the InRoads Brunch, you can contact the office or sign up on the tear-off.

In the near future we will also present “InSHAPE” a seminar on Sunday mornings designed to help you discover your “tool kit” for serving the Lord as He designed for you.  It helps assess your Spiritual gifts, your personality type, your experiences and your special interests; with a goal of matching you with a unique niche of rewarding and fruitful service.

So how about you—offense, defense or sidelines???

This weekend I am looking forward to seeing those who are attending our celebration Gala, 5PM on Saturday evening.  God has blessed us and we have a great opportunity to serve Him here in our immediate region and around the world.  We will have fun, great food and celebrate God’s faithfulness through the 18+ years CrossRoads has been here.  We will also look ahead toward what God has for us in the future.

Sunday we will continue our study of “The Treasure Principle” looking at things that hinder our ability to give in the joy-filled way Scripture intends for us.

Looking forward to seeing you!

Mick