A late Happy 4th of July to each of you! I pray that you all had a wonderful weekend of fellowship, fun, celebration, rest, and worship, praising our Father for His many blessings. As you gave thanks for our freedoms, I hope you said a prayer for those who have and are protecting our freedoms, as well as those who are missing loved ones due to their previous service in our military. I also hope you remembered those who do not have American freedoms and are currently living as disciples under great persecution. May our brothers and sisters find courage and peace through our Father during this time.
As we move into the heat of summer, I'm taking at least one more month off of our endurance disciplines discussion to cover a topic more front and center for our current season. Last month we discussed the benefits of belonging to both FCA Endurance and another local secular club or team. While being a part of Christ's Church in the endurance community provides encouragement, equipping, accountability, and general blessings, participation in other local groups can also be a source of blessing. These clubs and teams provide increased opportunity to meet non-believers and intentionally expose them to Jesus and His message through your words and deeds. As I share this message though, I want to pass along some encouragement that may protect some from taking this advice too far. As you go, do not go and hide.
What do I mean by hiding? I mean, going, joining the club, wearing their colors, talking about sport and training and racing, and generally behaving just like everyone else on the team. While this may make you fit in, be comfortable, be liked, form some friendships, and make you a good teammate within the club; it may not accomplish the mission. Remember, our mission is not to be liked, or necessarily to even make friends.
Our mission as Christians is to make disciples (Mt. 28:19-20). Can we effectively do this through radically loving others on another team? Yes! But loving them includes sharing the truth of the Gospel (saving them from the catastrophic consequences of their sins!), and this may not make people love you back or make you all that popular.
Consider Jesus' example and teaching. As He traveled around and interacted with various popular groups, not only did his words and actions not always result in new friends, they often made people very uncomfortable and even angry. He also said that the world would hate us as it hated Him (Jn. 15:18-25). My point here is not to go and make people purposefully hate us through unloving behavior or speech, but simply to remind us that as we shine the light, the darkness will not like it (Jn. 3:19). Proclaiming Jesus' Gospel will make many people uncomfortable (minimally), and we need to be ready for that as we go and join.
To close this out, I'll propose one simple, practical way to help you avoid hiding. It's simple, wear FCA Endurance gear. If you're looking to hide, I'm here to tell you that FCA Endurance yellow ain't camo! I'll humbly share that there have likely been many times when my jersey spoke for me when pride or fear prevented me from opening my mouth. If you're like me, being loving and kind comes much easier than verbally sharing the Gospel. However, I don't want anyone to mistake anything I do as me simply being a "nice guy." I do not want to be a well-liked covert Christian who is completely ineffective in our mission. There is a reason for the hope that is within me, and my jersey helps communicate that, both in times when I don't step up or in times that I'm completely unaware of as I run alongside someone. Wearing yellow is not an acceptable alternative to sharing the Gospel, but it can be a wonderful tool to assist you in our mission.
Go and join another team, but please do not go and hide. Courageously shine the light of Christ as you love radically and speak truthfully. And do this all gently, humbly, and after much prayer.
For God's Glory,
Posted on Tue, July 8, 2014
by Casey LaBue