With all of the seasonal attention surrounding the Super Bowl, this is a good time to point out an important correlation between sports and Christian living. There is a valuable lesson here!
Football is a team event. When points are scored the credit cannot go to one player. The game is not about a single quarterback, a single receiver or a single kicker. There will be no touchdown or field goal if no one on the field is blocking. If the center does not hike the ball, no points are scored.
The reason there are 11 men on the field at a given moment is because each one is important to the work of the team. A team has offensive players and defensive players on the bench because they will be needed for specific reasons at specific times in the game. There are coaches working diligently on the sidelines because they are essential to the team’s victory.
For generations now, western culture has been steeped in individualism – the ideology that elevates the value of the individual above all else. Even the church has not escaped its influence. There is too much evidence among us that we have lost sight of the scriptural truths which describe Christians as members of a “team.”
While there is value in every person as a creation of God, the universe does not revolve around any single individual. There is no evidence in scripture that the value of the individual is greater than the value of the “people of God.”
The Bible does not describe Christians as a mass of individuals who are each doing their own thing, demanding their own way, insisting that others bow to their selfish will. Individualism is not demonstrated in scripture – except in the context of disobedience and sin.
We are called the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10, 12). That is a picture of plurality. It takes many parts to make a body. We are called a “holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:4-8).
A priesthood is not one priest, but a plurality of priests. Jesus said he is the vine and we are the “branches” (John 15:5). The description is not of an individual branch, but many branches.
We are called an army, a flock, a kingdom of priests and the people of God – all plural metaphors.
So where do we come up with the idea that one person should have his or her way in the work of the local church? The answer to that question should be clear.
We have applied the non-biblical ideology of individualism to the operation of the body of Christ. We have refused to operate as a team.
By demanding our own way, disrespecting the role of the coach and disparaging the rest of the team, we undermine the potential for victory.
But the world of sports need not teach us the value of humbling ourselves in a team environment. We have a higher Authority who has declared His principles of “teamhood” to us.
Pride blinds us from His truth. Self-inflated individualism undermines our effectiveness.
Frankly, we need “the team” more than we are willing to admit.
If you watch this year’s Super Bowl, let it be a reminder to you that the New Testament church needs the kind of genuine revival that destroys selfish individualism.
Turn off the television during the commercials and pray for a humble, teachable heart in every believer in your church – beginning with yourself. Pray that our eyes will be open to the phenomenal power of humility.
Pray for a desire in your church to work in unison.
There is inestimable power in working together, giving together, praying together, worshipping together and proclaiming Christ to the nations together.
When the church serves together as a team, God gets the MVP award. All of the glory is His.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).