Playing By The Rules

Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

refereePick your sport, any sport; there is a basic level of understanding you have to have if you want to play. Every sport has its own unique set of rules, equipment, positions, time constraints, field of play, eligible players, scoring, etc.

You can’t touch the ball with your hands in soccer (“football” outside the U.S.), unless throwing in from out-of-bounds, or if you are a goalie in the box. You can’t run with the disc in Ultimate Frisbee. Stealing is OK in baseball (as long as it’s only a base). And there are no shortcuts in Triathlon; you have to stay on the course.

The unique characteristics of each sport set them apart from one another. In other words, when you cease to play by the rules of a particular sport, you are no longer playing that sport; you are doing something else. It may look or seem similar, but it isn’t the same if it doesn’t adhere to the original.

Generally, most people get the above concept when it comes to sport. But when it comes to faith, many in our culture throw that same concept right out the window. The assumption is that our beliefs are private and personal … thoughts which many believe are right and true simply because we have them, not because they align with objective truth.

For example, one of the most common ideas is that “all religions are essentially the same.” The assumption is that what you believe isn’t really as important as simply believing something, as long as you believe it sincerely! That would be like showing up at a tennis court with ice skates and a bat, believing with all your heart that you came ready to play tennis. You would be ready to play something … but it most definitely wouldn’t be tennis.

The fact is, all religions aren’t the same and faith is only as good as its object. Sincerely believing something that is false doesn’t change the fact that the belief is misplaced. You can believe with all your heart that you will float after jumping off a cliff, but your belief doesn’t change the reality of gravity.

Christianity is gracious, for sure, but it is still particular in its foundational distinctives. We’re told from Scripture that Jesus was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life; He can’t be the Savior otherwise. He claimed to be the Messiah prophesied in the book of Isaiah. He was betrayed, tried and condemned unjustly, crucified on a Roman cross, buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathia, and miraculously resurrected on the third day, appearing physically to several hundred people. Those are truth-claims of Christianity that are either true and consequential, or they are false; there’s no in-between.

If they are false, then we are utterly foolish to adhere to anything Christian. Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:14–19, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But if the claims of Christianity are true, then they compel us to radically follow Jesus with reckless abandon. That was His simple invitation, “Follow Me.” He said it to first century folks, and He says it to us. While our culture tries to dismiss Christianity or integrate it with every other kind of belief, we are called to stand firm on its uniqueness and graciously invite the people in our circles of influence to place their faith in the one object of faith who alone can deliver eternal life.

May He give us the boldness to do so until He returns.

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