It’s football season and I am looking forward to being in the stands tonight to cheer on Centralia. That is where I want to be fan. I do not, however, want to be caught on the sidelines of my faith. Several years ago, Kyle Idelman, now Senior Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, wrote a book called Not a Fan. It was a well written, thoughtful book about how Christians participate (or don’t participate) in their walk with Christ. The message of that book has stuck with me through the years since I read it and it caused me to view the Christian life, particularly mine, in a different light. One thing that it did, was it made me realize that, like the book said, there are far too many people sitting on the sideline, just a spectator, not really participating. However, as I continue to look through this lens (always at myself first), I came to the realization that there are so many different reasons that people stay on the sidelines. While I cannot address all of the individual reasons we choose to stay on the sidelines, I always feel the need to encourage you to get up and get in the game; and maybe, just maybe, I can encourage you today to do just that.
To my fellow believers- Get off the sidelines: The old cliche of 20% of the people do 80% of the work needs to exit our vocabularies. Get in the game. The Great Commission does not say “Church Staff” go and make disciples. It does not say “Sunday School Teachers” go and make disciples. It does not say “People who have their lives together” go and make disciples. It is an imperative from Christ Himself to ALL OF US to go and make disciples of all nations. In fact, the exact wording if you need the reference is:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:19-20
Then in Acts 1:8, a coinciding promise and command is given, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” It is has been made pretty clear that we all have the responsibility to share the gospel, to see people baptized, and to walk with them as we all grow in our faith.
To the casual believer- Get off the sideline: God has placed you on my heart. I want you to be sure, without a shadow of a doubt that you belong to the Lord and not just think you might be. No one who truly has an encounter with Christ will ever walk away the same. I want you to have assurance that beyond a shadow of a doubt that your life has been handed over to the Lord. In his book, Kyle says this:
“The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them.”Kyle Idelman- Not a Fan
If you know that you belong to the Lord, but you’ve been on cruise control lately or for most of your walk, it’s never too late to get in the game. Don’t try to satisfy your conscience by checking boxes of “good, religious things to do.” Get in the game, do the work, and experience the amazing pain of growth. Jesus never asked for fans, He asked for followers; and following requires a response. We cannot hope to follow if we are firmly planted on the sideline.
To the non believer- Get off the sideline: There is a God who loves you. There is a God who wants to save you. I know it’s not always easy to believe that when people who claim to believe in Him don’t exactly reflect it. I get it, I really do. Let me say this though, being a follower of Christ doesn’t make anyone perfect. God never expected us to be perfect as believers, He does expect us to be authentic. If you have tried church before, let me encourage you to try it again. This time, look for one that is authentic and not perfect. The perfect church doesn’t exist, but there are authentic churches out there. You will always run into believers that will upset you, we do too. What I can promise you is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and real. It offers hope and salvation, and it provides a love that you could not imagine. It will change you- the way you think, the way you act, the way you perceive things. It will cost you and once you place your faith in Him, life doesn’t automatically become a bed of roses because we still live in a broken and fallen world. But, you will no longer be a slave to this broken world and this life will no longer be as good as it gets. You can’t know this peace and this love if you never respond to it. God is calling you to Him, the message is this repent, turn away from the broken life of sin you lead, and trust that Jesus is the Son of God and that He paid the penalty for those sins. That he lived the life we couldn’t live and died the death we should have died. But not even death could hold Him because He rose 3 days later to give us victory over death. Don’t look for faith based on what you read or see on social media, find a believer, an authentic believer, not perfect, and let them share with you what God can do.
No matter where you are in life or your walk with Christ. If you are sold out or if you aren’t even a believer, get off the sideline and into the game. Respond to the gospel, be baptized, actively grow in your faith, and while we are at it, let’s make more disciples one person at a time. It’s good to be back.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach
Good stuff…loved being reminded of Not a Fan…hadn’t thought of it in awhile. Appreciated the gospel presentation. Am left wondering specifics of how to encourage more to heed your advice to get off the sidelines. I’m thinking personal invitation is the answer…especially reaching out to someone I think isn’t interested or not capable. The tendency to judge on personal perspective is too common.