Saturday, September 24, 2011

Christians On the Bench

Anyone who knows me very well,  knows that I am not only disinterested in sports, I despise sports in general, but putting that aside, imagine going with me to a ball game. We get there to find the stadium filled. The visiting team is in the outfield, but nothing is happening. I look around, and finally spy the home team. They are all sitting on the benches by the dugout. Some are reading, some have laptops, some are on their cell phones, but none appear interested in the game they are supposed to be playing. The coach is going from player to player, spending a few minutes with each before going on to the next. I'm curious as to what is going on, so I wander down to get a closer look. I arrive in time to hear him speaking to one of the players......

Coach: "Come on John. Go bat, please!"
John: "I'm too busy Coach. My plate is too full."

The coach moves on.
Coach: "Mike, will you take a turn at batting?"
Mike: "I'd rather not, Coach. But I promise I will pray for the game!"
The coach moves on to the next player.
Coach: "Bill, will you please go bat?"
Bill: "Coach, I think you are doing an excellent job at coaching, but me, bat? Nah. Go ask Paul to bat. He is better at it than me. And here is $20 to help with the game."

And down the row of players the coach goes, asking, begging, only to be met with excuse after excuse. No one will bat.

Sounds dumb. As much as I dislike sports, even I think a team like that should be fired and thrown out. But isn't that like so many of we Christians? Oh, we will pray for the services, for the pastor, for the Sunday School, and those who teach. We will toss some money into the offering plate, but don't expect us to sacrifice our money, our time, to step out of our comfort zone.

I read a book this past week that really impressed me and moved me. Passion to Action. It is a book I received to read and post a review, which I did here. It is a true story of a family who decided they didn't want to sit on the bench. The Locken family. They sold their house and most of their possessions, bought a RV and travel all over the country helping where they can. Handing out Bibles, helping serve in soup kitchens. All sorts of things, with all sorts of people. These people are really serving God and living out His Word to those they meet. Check out their website at

Now obviously, we cannot all sell our homes and travel the country in an RV, but are we willing to do something for God where we are? To use our talents in our church? I am afraid too many of us want to sit on the bench - or pew - and do nothing.

I went to a baseball game at the beginning of this post. Now lets go to my church. Let me set the scene. At the end of last year, my Sunday School teacher handed out a paper with what we would be studying this year. He wanted volunteers to teach lessons and/or suggestions for people we would like to teach them. I dove in whole hearted and wrote so many that I had more than there were lines for.

Here we are at the end of September, and no one that I listed has spoken in Sunday School class, nor are they listed to. I asked my SS teacher a couple of weeks ago about it. He did ask some, who all said "no." And some he didn't bother asking, for he knew they'd say "no."

There was one person in particular I was wondering about. Let's call him Dan. I asked "Did you ask Dan?" Yes, he was asked, but was "too busy." I used to think highly of Dan, and this will sound judgmental, but what. Dan has a hobby, shall we say. He spends a lot of money and time on it. He travels all over the US doing this hobby. He talks about it all the time. And there is nothing wrong with this hobby, but if we are too busy to teach a Sunday School lesson, but have time for trips for a hobby, then what is the deal?! Sad thing is, "Dan" is very talented. Should have been a preacher. I firmly believe that if he was given a Sunday School class full of young boys, he would make a difference in their lives. But......... he is "too busy."

There are a lot of Dans in the church. We are all too happy to pray for the pastor, the missionaries, put money into the offering, but we don't want to sacrifice. We want our time, most of our money, our dreams, our desires. Let someone else carry the load. Don't ask us to do anything that will take us out of our groove. Put the average Christian up against the Loeken family, and we'd be sadly lacking. Here is a family who is out there living in a RV because they wanted to do more for God. Sound fun? Sure, but read their book and you will see it isn't all fun and games, but God is blessing them for what they are doing.

I fear the average Christian forgets what it is all about. There is a quote from the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens that has been on my mind lately. It is from the scene were Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Marley:

One of the most moving statements in this Christmas tale is by Marley's Ghost when despairing over "life's opportunities misused." Scrooge, trembling with fear and beginning to share in Marley's guilt, says: "But you were always a good man of business, Jacob." Upon which the Ghost cried out in anguish:

"Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

The Great Commission isn't just for the missionary on the foreign field. It isn't just for the people working in the streets of the USA. It is for all Christians. We should be seeking ways to work for God, even if it is just in our local church. Who knows what a change could be made in our own churches if people would let God use them and their talents, but everyone is "busy."
I can honestly say I haven't said "no" to much I was asked to do in the church, and the times I did say "no" was because at the time I was asked, I wasn't where I needed to be spiritually. And there may be others like me, but most of the time, people are just too busy, or don't want to step out of our comfort zone.
But what if Jesus had been "too busy" to come to earth to die for us? What if He hadn't wanted to step out of His comfort zone? And if you think hanging on a cross with nails through His hands and feet and a crown of thorns on His head wasn't out of His comfort zone, then you are delusional.
We may not know til we get to Heaven - and maybe not even then - what our actions and influence has done here on earth and what our in actions and refusals to be used have not accomplished. If you are asked to speak in a Sunday School class, it might be you that God is planning on reaching that one person. And your refusal to speak might mean he won't be reached. Far fetched? I don't think so.
So should we always say "yes" to anything we are asked to do in church? Not necessarily. For one thing, if we always say "yes" we will get asked to do everything. For another, we may not be capable. For instance, me sing a solo? Wow. That would clear out the church! But we should be more willing, and less prone to just say "no."

Someone has said that God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. If we prayed and sought God's will, we'd all be surprised at what we could do with His help.

Too busy? I'm sure Satan laughs with glee when Christians use that worn out response. For the busier we are, the less we will do for God, and Satan wins another round.

There is a song that says when we get to Heaven, we will wish we had done more. I don't know if we will have any regrets when we step through those pearly gates, but if we do, none of us are going to wish we had spent more time on us and our desires. No, we will wish we had done more to help our fellow man. Done more to reach out to our neighbor, co-worker, even the person in the pew across from us at church.
We aren't on this earth to play and work. Those are important, but we must not forget why we are here: To do God's will, live for Him, make it to Heaven, and take as many people with us as we can..... for that is all we can take to Heaven - people.