I went to a major league, spring training baseball game in Florida recently. It was a lackluster
performance by the home team. The most exciting plays of the game were acted out by the team mascot (the Pirate Parrot). Let’s just say, it was rather disappointing.
I realize sporting events can be like that (especially games that don’t really mean anything like spring training games). As the old saying goes, “You can’t win them all.” That would be fine if I could go to “them all.” Unfortunately, I can only afford a few. When I dish out money, I usually hope there will be at least SOME excitement created by a hustling home team.
Fortunately, the home team in this case is quite good and promises to provide a lot of exhilarating moments during this coming season. It’s more than I can say for a lot of Christian congregations across the globe, however.
Discipleship is not sport!
I realize that comparing local churches to baseball teams is doing an apples to oranges thing. Discipleship is certainly not a sport, and it carries a lot more weight than any game. Never the less, the ministry of any church can either be a vital one or a lackluster affair.
When pro athletes just go through the motions, there is a phrase used to describe their efforts. That phrase is, “they just mailed it in.” Many of us in the church can often be described the same way. We just mail it in.
We can be very unenthusiastic about what we’re doing. We can simply go through the motions because we think it’s our duty, feel like we have to, or just don’t know what else to do. Mailing it in has become a way of life for many church folks these days.
Jesus becomes a relative knick-knack.
In the Book of the Revelation, Jesus tells the church in Ephesus they have lost their first love. In other words, they have basically put Jesus on the shelf and moved on to other things.
He’s still there on that shelf, visible and present. But he’s a relative knick-knack–window dressing for those who visit. He’s acknowledged, but he performs no other function than to be given passing ascent. He’s almost become a good luck charm for them.
Sadly, the church at Ephesus is alive and well today. So many of us give Jesus the nod as we pass by his shelf. He’s got his place, and he needs to stay there. We don’t want him getting involved and stirring the pot. You know how he can mess up our plans for a nice, comfortable life.
Probably the saddest part of all that is the phrase, “lost their first love.” When Christ is our first love–when he is our priority, when we are truly his disciples–we are a vibrant church.
When he holds any other position than number one, we begin to mail it in and put our energies toward other pursuits–namely our own. It’s clearly not the way to go.