It was around seventh or eighth grade that I fell in love with football. So, I joined the team. I quickly discovered that, in order to play football, you have to go to practice. I also discovered, even though you do all the drills, you may end up sitting on the bench.
Thank God that His Kingdom is not like that! In Revelation 5, John has this awesome vision about the slayed Lamb standing tall and the crowd singing a new song: “Worthy! …. Slain! …. Bought them back for God” (Revelation 5:10). Yes, Jesus bought you back for God, you and every Christ-follower. If that wasn’t enough good news, the song continues, “Then you made them a kingdom, priests for our God.”
How exciting! No believer in Jesus sits the bench! At least, from the Scripture’s point of view. By God’s design, there are no benchwarmer believers. Yet, sadly, there are many. They aren’t bad people. They love Jesus. However, so many have never discovered their spiritual gifts. So, they don’t know their position on Team Jesus.
Sadly, it’s not entirely their fault. Somewhere along the line, many streams of the Christian faith have drifted into clericalism. The “professionals” moved from equipping people for ministry to doing ministry, to and for people. Most people ended up on the church bench: sitting in pews. Perhaps they are called “pews” because the whole idea stinks!
So many believers have inverted the movement into program, the organism into organization. Perhaps we were afraid some people would corrupt the Holy Scripture. So, we felt we had to protect God’s church. Maybe we didn’t trust God to protect His movement. We not only stepped into His role, but we stepped on our role—we squashed the divine mechanism that God invented, the approach with the power to change the world for Jesus. So, we piddle along with mediocre results, robbing most of the body of Christ of the thrill to work hand in hand with the Creator—failing to use the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, which He gives to each believer.
In the process, we have made fishers of men and women into keepers of the aquarium. We have elevated the beautiful gift that everyone is a minister and given it only to a few. We have castrated the body of Christ. God calls us to be fruitful and multiply. Jesus calls us to make disciples. We have rendered the body of Christ impotent.
We have taken the spiritual gifts model and replaced it with the human model of volunteers. We have taken that which is holy and made it mediocre. Basically, we have not taken Jesus at His Word. We have not taken the Bible at its Word. We have snatched the power of the Holy Spirit and relied on our own. The result is clear. We say we want to reach the world for Christ, yet we are unwilling to do it God’s way.
Reaching the world for Jesus is not a game. This is life or death, eternity: for people, for the church.