Pastor's Pen: On the team or just playing the game?

The other day I was driving by the baseball field. Out on the diamond were several kids practicing for their next big game. There were some practicing their pitching, others practicing catching and some who were up to bat.

Later that day, I was doing some research for my fantasy baseball team. The articles I read talked about different players who had been at practice. They were out on the diamond pitching, catching and up to bat. They were practicing for their next game.

Despite the fact that they were both doing the same things, those players on the field in Evart were not Major League Baseball Players. They were not going to play for the Tigers later that week. Someone can bat, catch and pitch; but that doesn’t make them a professional baseball player. However, a professional baseball player will be on the field batting and catching and pitching.

That reminds me of the Pharisees. In Jesus’ day the Pharisees were “good” people. In fact, they were the most religious people of the day. Anyone would have looked at them as the example to follow. Because of their actions, people would have thought they were devout followers of God. However, Christ told them, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.” (John 8:44)

Why would Christ say that? He’s talking about “good”, decent people that were respected! Yet, that is precisely why He said it. The Pharisees thought they were “good enough”. They didn’t feel a need for Jesus – to follow Him or require Him as Savior.

We may look down on the Pharisees now. We’re glad that we aren’t like them. But the fact is that we are. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way …” (Isaiah 53:6). You are not and never will be “good enough.” Despite how “good” you think you are, you are, in reality, a terrible, horrible sinner. We all are. If we think we are good enough then we know we’re not following Christ. You and I need a Savior because we are all that bad. Maybe you treat people well, give to charities and have self-control.

That doesn’t make you a Christ-follower, but if you are a Christ follower those things and more will be true of you. “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.’” (John 8:31) Are you playing the game of Christianity by being “good” or are you part of the team living to glorify God? Be sure you know the difference.