Getting Your Number Called

A friend “volunteered” to coach his daughter’s sixth-grade soccer team. Missing the initial parent/player meeting leads to being nominated “Coach,” in which case the election naturally goes unopposed and the votes are unanimous.

After the regular season, the girls qualified for a quarter-final matchup. During this time, several nearby games had just ended, allowing all the other kids to fill the bleachers. As the dad paced the sidelines looking for subs, most girls quickly became fixated on their cleats, avoiding eye contact lest their number be called. Not so with Caroline. Her eyes locked squarely with his as if daring him, “Come on, Coach, just put me in.” My friend explained how the other girls had practiced, prepared, and earned playing spots on the 1st and 2nd strings. But not so for Caroline, who was under the spotlight of her peers, which was horror enough during those awkward teenage years, and she didn’t care. She only wanted to storm the field and hear her number get called.

A strikingly similar scenario is playing out before us today. Disciples of Jesus have tirelessly readied ourselves to engage the culture in spiritual matters for decades. In other words, we’ve practiced and prepared beyond measure. To interject truth from God’s word into everyday conversation has been a dream for us, just like we read in Deuteronomy 6:7: “You shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” But now that the field of opportunity is opening up, our bench is far too warm, or we’re running off to play elsewhere.

For the first time in my lifetime, the culture is willing to lend its ear to good words from Christ. They’re receptive to being evangelized. If you peel back the English word “Gospel” in your Bible, you’ll find a Greek word underneath, Evangelion, from which we get evangelism. That is what Paul had in view when he wrote Romans 10:14-15: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News (Evangelion) of Good Things!'” And yet, if you were to scan the ballfield before us under the world’s watching spotlight, you’d find primarily cleat-watchers and holy huddles filling the sidelines, not uttering a word.

Talking endlessly about everything less Christ has become the new norm. It’s Christianity’s newest bad habit. To be an active member of society and aware of current events is understandable. But according to 2nd Cor. 5:19-20, we must keep the main thing the main thing: God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Ambassadors not only participate in the major happenings of the day, but perhaps most profoundly, we get to share in the glory. Which is better? Overhearing after the game, your favorite team won a championship? Watching your team win in real time on TV? What about being present as a spectator in the stands? Could anything be better than that? Yes, getting your number called, responding to it by taking the field, participating in the work of the Gospel, and sharing in God’s glory. He called you to this through our Gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. 2:14 If indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Rom. 8:17-18

If you’re a reluctant “volunteer” like the dad, or waiting to participate like Caroline, consider this your number getting called. It’s time for you to go in.

Jesus said, for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.


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