Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Are we Competing according to the Rules?

Meditation for the week of October 31, 2010

2Timothy 2:5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

Paul sees the Christian as an athlete competing in sports.  He makes it clear however, that not only is it important to win, but the way we play the game is also important.  Since the opposing team is the world and since the world is energized by Satan, we who want to compete lawfully would seem to be at a disadvantage.  How are we going to win if we “turn the other cheek” when we are hit?  How are we going to win if we are always exhibiting the graciousness of Christ, or if we don’t strive or gossip or slander?  How are we going to win if we don’t cheat or lie?  How are we going to be a success if we don’t “take” instead of “give”?

Our commission is to make disciples of the Lord and then to immerse them in water to identify them with the resurrected Christ through a symbolic burial and resurrection.  Then we are to teach them all things (that the Lord has asked us to teach them).  (See Matthew 28:19-20.)  We are to teach them that Christians win by losing and that they live by dying.  We are to teach them that life is now going to require a daily dying to self in order to live for the One who loved us and died for us.  We are to teach love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  We are commanded to teach them to preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23).  We are to teach them to be concerned about the regeneration of the individual through repenting and trusting Christ rather than in the reformation of the world through the political system or through any other type of coercion.  We are to teach them that sometimes it is more important to pray than to do.  How can fighting by these rules possibly win in this evil world? 

Sometimes we forget how the game should be played.  It is played in the world by the preaching of the Gospel, but the victory is won in the hearts of individuals.  It is not done by the political process, rather it is done by the Holy Spirit as He uses the Word of God to convict and convert those who hear the truth.  If Christians were able to abolish abortion and stem cell research,  if we were able to ban gay marriage, if we were able to get prayer and the Bible back into the schools, if we were able to get everything that we wanted with regard to morals politically, how many people would actually end up going to heaven because of these great gains?   Getting the Bible read in school might mean some children would hear the Gospel and since the Lord uses His Word to save, I could see that being helpful in advancing the kingdom.  Making an unbelieving, Christ-rejecting, immoral world act moral would make society a better place to live, but it would not help any one go to heaven.  If the world is reformed by force or political means, individuals will still not be broken and repentant believers.  They may conform, but that won’t save them and may even cause them to be hardened to the Gospel.  Other religions may be able to make converts this way, but that is not the rules that we play by as Christians.  Being a Christian is not a simply a matter of behaving right, it is a matter of the heart.  When the heart is right, behaving right will be the result.

Doesn’t it seem that when we play by the Lord’s rules that we are bound to fail?  Won’t other religions overwhelm us and won’t evil overtake us?  Don’t we need to change the rules in order to win this battle?  It may seem that way, but the just live by faith.  We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Our kingdom is spiritual and not physical.  Our hope is in eternity and not in the here and now.  We need to remember that the Lord knew how to save us and that He knows the way that the battle against the world and Satan should be fought.   Things are not really going to be made right in this world until the Lord comes the way He left–to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) to set up a Kingdom where there will be true righteousness.  We need to trust Him.

An apparent victory is really a loss if the Lord cannot approve what we do because we didn’t stay within the lines as we ran this race.

Bruce Collins

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