In the last couple of weeks we have observed: the Triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey; Jesus offering bread and a cup to his twelve disciples at the Passover meal; the intense struggle at the garden of Gethsemane; Jesus arrested, mock trial, beating and crucifixion. This past Sunday we triumphantly celebrated that Jesus was not dead but he is alive just as he said he would be. We sat back and observed all of this from a distance. Up until this point we are not necessarily invited into the story. But…

Your number has been called. It is time to get into the game. Paul writes in Romans 6:4

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

We are no longer just passive observers of the events. Paul is clear, God has now included us into his story.

Think about this from the perspective of playing sports. Playing the game is a lot more fulfilling than watching others play. To be honest with you it is easier to sit back and watch the game and be excited about the game than to actually be called in to play. There is a great piece from a book called “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman, that will illustrate this point.

“It’s the guy who goes to the football game with no shirt and a painted chest. He sits in the stands and cheers for his team. He’s got a signed jersey hanging on his wall at home and multiple bumper stickers on the back of his car. But he’s never in the game. He never breaks a sweat or takes a hard hit in the open field. He knows all about the players and can rattle off their latest stats, but he doesn’t know the players. He yells and cheers, but nothing is really required of him. There is no sacrifice he has to make. And the truth is, as excited as he seems, if the team he’s cheering for starts to let him down and has a few off seasons, his passion will wane pretty quickly. After several losing seasons you can expect him to jump off the fan wagon and begin cheering for some other team. He is an enthusiastic admirer.

And I think Jesus has a lot of fans (or enthusiastic admirers) these days. Fans who cheer for him when things are going well, but who walk away when it’s a difficult season. Fans who sit safely in the stands cheering, but they know nothing of the sacrifice and pain of the field. Fans of Jesus who know all about him, but they don’t know him.” (“Not a Fan” Kyle Idleman, Zondervan, 2011, pages 24-25)

Maybe you have been an enthusiastic admirer your whole life. Have you been up in the stands cheering on the team, but not wanting to be called in? I will be honest with you, life is easier in the stands. You will never get hurt, you will never mess up, and you don’t have to worry about anyone watching you or judging you. But life in the stands will never lead to fulfillment.

Listen to Paul once again, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:5 ESV)

Our name has been called, its time to get out of the stands and into the game. Once in the game you are no longer safe, you will get dirty, you will get hurt, you will be judged and scrutinized by people. But, you will learn of Jesus’ love, sacrifice, pain and promise to never leave you nor forsake you. You will never stand alone when Jesus is by your side. So get in the game!

A couple of questions for you to ask today:

1. Explain the difference between playing a sport and watching it being played? Would you rather be a spectator or a participant? Why?

2. What does Romans 6:4 say in regards to our status on “team Jesus”? What significance does this hold for you? Would you rather be a spectator or participant on this team?

Look forward to hearing from you. Have a wonderful day!