Flag on the Play
It was quiet; eerily so. The steam vented off of his head in a hazy, defined smoke precluding the imminent chaos soon to slay the present serenity. His jersey clung to his sweaty flesh in a seemingly desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of the well-manicured player who took the field only 90 minutes ago. Now, blood hardened on his brow from contact with one who, in this moment, could only be described as the enemy, and his once manicured image destroyed by the violent collisions and contacts played out on the field that day, he stood as a picture of what this... “game”... was truly meant to simulate...
Mind sharp. Eyes focused. Every part of his being honed in on the completion of his mission making the utter gravity of the situation seem to float away under his unchanging resolve.
Without thinking, almost as if his body was made for the now cleat-torn turf, every muscle contracted and expanded with nearly perfect precision and fierce intensity as his foot collided with the scuffed soccer ball and it began its careening arc towards destiny.
That half a second lingered for what seemed to be an eternity, and the other team's representative in this fateful dance seemed to lunge towards the shot in slow motion. His fingers stretched in desperation towards what became more and more clear to be a futile effort.
It was a perfect shot.
And as the ball arced into the top corner of the goal and splashed against the back net, it seemed the world had exploded. A brutal mixture of ecstatic exasperations of elation and bitter cries of sorrow burst through the stadium.
They did it.
The once name-less band of men joined together long ago for this single purpose were no longer nameless. And, even moreso, their victory in this gruesome battle had earned them a new name...
Are you a champion?
If so, of what?
Where is your team of players, coaches or simple supporters who walked with you through the hard losses and sweet victories that brought you to the throne of such an honorable title?
You see, in sports, the whole purpose of beginning the play is to win, and, not just once, but to destroy every obstacle in one's path until the ultimate victory can be realized.
But what does that mean for you?
If you're reading this and are not in school or a professional athlete, chances are that your familiarity which such situations is bound to distant memories of the competitive seasons in your life that taught you how to strive as a group towards a goal. Let us call those days to remembrance for a moment while we explore the mental ramblings running loose in my head in Qatar airport.
You see, when the unsaved person steps into salvation, they step through the death that defines the end of this physical life and grab a hold of something greater; a promise... no... a guarantee... of a life that will transcend the shackles of this mortal coil.
AND for the intents and purposes of this illustration, let us say that they join a team.
Not a league. Not a consortium.
ONE team... with ONE goal.
However, that's not what we see manifest in this world.
The "Team" has split into factions, denominations and sects. All of which are claiming to be wholly authentic in their efforts, yet are consistently, contently and completely hypocritical in their actions.
You see, if the scenario from the beginning would have played out as a representation of what the “body” of Christ currently is, one player would have refused to play unless every player on the team kicked with their left foot...
Another would refuse to play with people who didn't come to their little sister's birthday party
Another would refuse to play with others who didn't make as much as they did.
And this separation would continue until our fateful player who made that final shot stood on the field alone.
What victory can he know in that?
Sure, the left footed player is an all-star player
Sure, the player with the strong sense of family has excellent strategy and defensive abilities
Sure, the rich player can simply go out and buy the best trainers available
But all of these impressive actions are meaningless and vain fruits that do not advance the team towards the ultimate goal; victory.
Because victory is only found on the field of play, and the only group of people that can win it, is the TEAM, not a rouge-player, regardless of how talented he or she is.
Furthermore, the only way a player can be a part of the team officially is to receive the jersey from the coach and be added to the Book... er... roster.
And I'm pretty sure a coach only hands out jersey's for the team he coaches and, therefore, the logo or insignia, or... mark... that identifies that team is identical on EVERY jersey...
Who's team do you play for?
“What church do YOU go to?”
I love that question. It makes me smile every time I hear it. It reminds me of a conversation I had on the way to fellowship with a dear brother...
“...most churches are organizations.” he concluded. “They register, set themselves up with leadership, and organize themselves to operate as a unit, but they forget that they are supposed to part of the larger Organism of Christ. So, when I see most churches in America, I see organizations set up to handle some "noble" business or cause, not members of the Organism of Christ.”
It floated so easily off of his tongue that I had to steep in the profundity of the conclusion he had arrived at. Nearly a year later, I was working for a large company and one of the trainers over our group said something along these lines that sent that conversation careening back into the forefront of my consciousness.
“[We] are an organization that doesn't just sell insurance, we sell it in a way that assures our customers that they have made the right choice in selecting us. Your job is to make good on that promise we made to them...”
You see, the organization is NOT insurance. No organization can simultaneously be the thing it “sells” to bring in or grow its “customer-base” and, ultimately, its capital (unless it is a prostitute that incorporates herself). Insurance is the product that the organization uses to bring in the profit that it wants. As a for-profit business this completely acceptable and an excellent strategy. Not so for church organizations.
To tie all of this together, most “churches” have resolved to be organizations that “sell” Jesus to sinners in an effort to profit someway, either "win more souls for the kingdom" (that go to their church), or accrue financial gain for some reason, bring their "church" more visibility or social presence, etc.
Now, don't get me wrong, not every organizational church's end-goal is cut and dry, and most either knowingly or unknowingly abuse the ideals of Christ to further their organizational efforts. Organizational churches have a myriad of goals that they use as replacements for the mark that is Christ; most of which are "honorable" causes in society.
Evangelism, charity, and missions to name a few. But, unless that group of people is truly operating as a part of the Organism of Christ, all of these charitable efforts are just as vain as the players that never truly take the field as a team and instead find themselves content going to press conferences, public relations events, and showing their awesome spirit through “off-field” efforts.
A few months ago, I concluded that when God led me. I would create a new YouTube channel called IDGAFNM (pronouced Id-gaffin-em and stands for IDGAF... no more... I'll let you figure it out) where I would go to church parking lots all over the country with a friend who played football to illustrate how sharply divided and useless such a form of Christianity ultimately is by throwing a pass from one parking lot to the other (at which point, the football tossed through the air would likely have been more unified in Christ than most of the people that attend each organization and have no consideration for their supposed brothers and sisters that are literally a stones throw away...)
If you are the leader of an organization that is professing Christ yet fails to consistently and purposefully co-labor with the others who claim to be within Body of Christ, yet go to a different organization for their “Product”...
If you are the leader of an organization and there is a “name” by which your organization exists that is more carnally important than Jesus (i.e. there is a banner, sign, or name in front of the building that the people of YOUR organization familiarize themselves with)...
If you have half a church full and are praying for a bigger building, yet haven't gone across the street to meet the other (also half-full) organizations that are sometimes less than 100 yards away to actually get started on the work God planted you in that area to do...
I'd be willing to bet cash money that you are an organization and not a part of the true Organism of Christ and are in danger of hell-fire
“But, but... brother. They don't believe as we do; they aren't REAL Christians; they won't work with us.”
No person on this planet believes as another does, that's why we need to be renewed in our minds that we might have the MIND (not minds) of Christ and then act and demonstrate the pathway of actions that come from such a mind (which is, the will of God).
What is a REAL Christian other than one that is like Christ. I don't remember Christ ever separating Judas out because of his contrary heart and the ultimate betrayal that is would give room for. It wasn't until Judas' actions manifested that he separated himself from communion with Christ.
Most people will not work with another person who “says” they have it together, yet cannot demonstrate what such a maturity provides for. It's hard for people to follow other people when the see their humanity alone. It is easy for people to follow other people when their humanity demonstrates Christ truly in them.
Come up with whatever excuse you would like, but the truth is simply this:
You can't be a true Christian unless you sell over your life to the WHOLE body and God's will for it. Not just YOUR family. Not just YOUR community. Not just YOUR “church”. This means a true congregation of the church probably shouldn't even have an organizational name other than what is documented to register and identify it legally.
My challenges to the church leaders of America, take down the names from in front of your buildings for one month and agree unite regardless of denomination and other devices that divide. Meet in the biggest building owned by an organization in an area and actually be ONE body of many parts as the Bible instructed us and operate as that ONE body, separated only by a distances that are not sensible to travel. Maybe you could use all those other buildings to create/empower all those auxilliary ministries that some "churches" go into debt to purchase on their own. Watch how fast to true Body of Christ wakes up and begins to impact the world.
It no longer concerns me until I see the BODY of Christ. I have received clear instruction from on high not to participate in organizational church anymore. If there are any other members of the true Organism of Christ that are yearning to trade their divided, multi-colored, multi-denominational, jerseys in for one, unified jersey, I would advise you to find a local leader that will help facilitate your reunification with the rest of the Body, cuz we're out here. Spread out among organizations or, more close to where I am in life, out on the front lines with only a small group of human support that complements the supernatural back-up from on high.
At the end of the day you have to choose what you are going to do. Continue to be a part of an organization that says we all have a duty to serve Christ as one body of many parts, yet denies that fact by neglecting to BE one body of many parts...
Or forsake all, including the fancy church building with the pretty sign, take up your cross and follow Christ together as ONE body...