Summary: Sermon one in a series designed for a giving campaign named, "Get In The Game!"
Ed Young, Jr., Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, tells the following story from his days as a college basketball player:
During my freshman season at Florida State University, Greg Collingsworth and I did not play that much. In fact, there was a fifteen game stretch where we did not see any playing time at all. We used to play cruel jokes on each other. Greg would imitate the coach’s voice now and then and say, "Ed, get in the game!" I would stand up, get ready to take my warm-ups off, and then he would laugh and say, "Come on Ed, you bit again! Coach Williams wasn’t asking you to get in the game."
It was boring and pretty bad sitting on the bench for that long. I’ll never forget what happened. We were preparing to play the University of Kentucky during the semi-finals of the Midwest Regional Basketball Championship, a nationally televised game. I knew down deep, that I wouldn’t get to play. But I thought, "Maybe, just maybe, if a couple of guys got hurt, or if the intestinal flu ravaged the team, then I might see some action." So prior to the game, I had my ankles taped and I put my uniform on, and as I was snapping my warm-ups on over my uniform, I happened to look around the locker room, and I saw my team mates in various stages of dress, and to my shock and amazement, Greg Collingsworth, my bench-sitting buddy, was not snapping his warm-ups on over his uniform, but he was putting them on over his boxer shorts! I walked up to him and said, "Greg, what are you thinking? What if coach Williams asks you to get in the game?" He just smiled in kind of an evil looking manner, as we headed out the tunnel and hit the court before 17,000 screaming fans and went through warm ups.
To the average fan, Greg look like the rest of us. Sporting his customed made Florida State University warm-ups, along with his Nike shoes, everything from the outside looked good, but in reality, Greg was not ready to get in the game. He had his boxers on. He was just going through the motions.
As the teams gathered around mid-court for the tip-off, I was praying, "Lord, please don’t let coach Williams ask Greg to get in the game. This could be humiliating and embarrassing for the entire university!" Thankfully, God answered my prayer.
But just think if He hadn’t! On national television, there would have been a player, in his boxers, trying to play basketball. It would have been sad.
Now, in a real way, God is looking at my life and yours and He is saying to us, "Get in the game!" Do you have your warm-ups on over your uniform? Are your ankles taped? Are you ready to go? Or are you like Ed’s friend, Greg? You look the part, but you’ve really just got your warm-ups on over your boxer shorts! God calls on each one of us to get in the game.
I want us to consider six reasons why each of us needs to "get in the game" by getting involved in and committed to the work of First Baptist Church. We need to get in the game . . .
1. For the sake of past and future generations - v. 1a
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses"
Everything we enjoy as a church today is due to the sacrifice and commitment of generations past, and everything we do by way of sacrifice and commitment today will impact the generations to come.
2. For the sake of ourselves - v. 1b
"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us"
God has a plan for each of our lives. He has a "race marked out for us." His plan involves making our life useful and making us more like Jesus. If commit ourselves to living according to God’s plan, we will be led to:
A. Develop our focus - "everything that hinders"
B. Address our faults - "sin that so easily entangles"
C. Move beyond our failures - "run with perseverance"
3. For the sake of fellow believers - v. 1b
"let US run with perseverance the race marked out for US"
The imagery here is that of a relay race. Each runner has a part of the race to run. If one does not run their leg of the race properly, that hinders the ability of the other runners on the team.
4. For the sake of our Lord - v. 2a
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith"