Christian Athletes: Let's Talk "TEAM" JESUS
Team is defined as a “group of people working together on a specific task.” By definition, it is true to say that all Christians form a team.
Christians are a group of people who are called by Jesus to work together with the common purpose of carrying out his will on earth. With that understanding in mind, let’s speak a language all of us athletes can vibe with—let’s talk in terms of a TEAM.
Since we as Christians are indeed a team, God is our head coach, along with his son Jesus (who saved us) and the Holy Spirit (who empowers us). Since teams are designed to participate in games, we can say that Christians play in the game of life, with Satan and his squad as a regular opponent. And the game schedule is a tough and lengthy one—365 days a year, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. We never stop playing because life never stops happening. But Roman’s 8:37 promises us victory. We can be “more than conquerors”. But that all depends on how we choose to play.
| Are there many ways to play on God’s team? |
There is only one way to play on God’s team—HIS WAY. Knowing that the game plan of Christ is the only one that will work for his team is an important aspect to grasp because we live in a world that tends to ignore this truth. Many people, rather than depending solely on the bible’s instructions, have chosen to trust their own instincts when determining what Jesus will or will not accept from them.
For example, this is how some athletes become what I like to call game-day-only Christians. They don’t really pray or read scripture that much during the week, but on game day, that’s when God gets a lot of attention. I used to be like this myself. I wanted protection from injury, vision on the field, plenty of touchdowns, and a victory—all wrapped up in one big game day blessing. During the week, however, I just wanted my food blessed. Otherwise, prayer was not on the agenda, and neither was wholehearted obedience. I was not aware how silly it was for me to think that I could ignore Jesus all week long, and then—like a football genie—he’d grant all my game day wishes just because I “believed in him.” It wasn’t true of Jesus then, and it is still not true of him today.
Many athletes in the world today still try and pull this off. Still trying to redefine the way following Christ works. But God has already defined in scripture what is acceptable when it comes to membership on God’s team, and it’s not going to change—no matter what new ways we come with in our attempts to change it. Our earthly opinions will never be able to replace God-breathed scripture. As a Christian, the bible alone—without twisting, manipulating, or tailoring it—must be our ultimate source of truth and guidance. It alone is the completed perfect game plan of God. The bible is the only acceptable way to play for his team. All other methods fail if they try to replace or compromise God’s truth. He’s the HEAD coach.
When people join Team Jesus but then make a lifelong continued effort to play by their own rules, they’ll eventually become players he cannot use. By ignoring the game plan of God, you are cutting yourself off from the team. Jesus says it like this:
“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:6).
Choosing to live by our own rules is like walking up to Jesus and saying, “I’m sorry, coach. I love being on your team, but I just don’t like certain parts of your game plan. So, I’ll just go with mine instead—but I’m still gonna need your blessings on my plans, big guy.” If this is your approach to the plan of God, then you need to consider yourself a withered branch disconnected from the tree. Nowhere in scripture do we read about a Jesus who allows us to ignore him, and then proceed to use and abuse his power.
| You get out what you put in. |
Finally, never forget that when it comes to playing on God’s team—you definitely get out of it what you put into it. You succeed when God get’s ALL of you. However, you will fail as a player on Team Jesus if your effort towards God’s game plan is poor. Here’s a known fact about success and winning:
On any team, it is not the game plan alone that determines success, but also the effort given toward executing it.
Think about it: Would you give poor effort toward preparing for a championship game in your sport—against the strongest team on the schedule—and still expect to win the big game? Of course not. Poor effort doesn’t produce wins for you on your sports teams, and it will not produce spiritual victories on Gods’ team either.
So, as I wrap this up, I’d like to end with a question: when it comes to team Jesus… do you think god is pleased with how you play the game of life? Answer honestly and let the Holy Spirit shape the way you play, on and off the field.
In Jesus name we pray, and on HIS team, we play—by HIS rules, HIS plans, and always according to HIS way.
PROUD to call you a teammate in Christ!
T.C. STALLINGS is a former collegiate (Louisville) and professional athlete with experience in the AFL2, CFL, EUROPE, and NFL Free Agency. He has many accolades, has broken several records, has won championships, but is most proud of the impact that he had (for Jesus) in the locker room.