In college I realized that following Jesus was a whole different ball game than simply believing in Him. Anyone can believe, but only true followers passionately pursue the will of God. They strive to let His Son take over their entire lives.
Watching SportsCenter, one morning, a segment praised various athletes for their constant display of courage, dedication, perseverance, strength, determination, will, and passion. This segment ended with one sportscaster saying something like, “These are the kind of players who all coaches want on their teams. They are winners. It’s no wonder they are usually the players who become champions.”
I was totally fired up after the show. I could clearly envision myself on that television screen being featured with all those athletes. I shared their same mind-set. I had the same kind of drive, that exact same kind of athletic will, and the same kind of passionate effort. I knew exactly why I was a successful college football player. It was because I gave my whole heart to the sport.
Reading 1 Corinthians 9:24–27, I imagined Jesus saying to me: “Sure, you are a great athlete, and, yes, you do play well in the games. Do you know why? It is because you do everything your college football coach tells you to do. You play with incredible passion! You give a tremendous amount of effort to the Louisville Cardinal Football team ... but what do I get? What kind of effort do you give me? What kind of player are you on my team? How passionate of a player are you for me?”
By proclaiming the name of Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was also proclaiming my allegiance to God’s team. To play well for the Cardinals, it always took sacrifice, dedication, relentlessness, courage, and passion. It was now clear to me that playing on God’s team would require these same traits!
Team Jesus requires our best, it deserves our best, and it demands our best. Every player (or coach) on any team knows that poor effort will not produce victories. Well, playing on God’s team is no different. Poor spiritual effort will only lead to spiritual losses.
To play well in the game of life, I needed to give my spiritual head coach everything I had. I needed to put all of my effort into doing what He asked of me as a player on His team. Jesus will never fail and will perfectly do His part as a coach. It was up to me to do my part as a player, which would always require my best effort.