Get Off the Bench with the Holy Spirit

Feel like you’re an unworthy Christian? That lie from Satan is not exclusive to you and just about every follower of Christ will grapple with their worthiness before the Lord. We spend so much of our time speaking about how we are unworthy of God’s mercy and grace (which is true) that we forget that Jesus’ blood makes us worthy. No, it was not by our works so we do not have the right to boast of our own account (Ephesians 2:8-9), but we cannot forget that we are righteous in God’s eyes through faith in Christ’s salvation and living a repentant life. That’s why the blood of Jesus is so critical in our lives: it’s the only means by which our scarlet sin is rinsed away before God’s eyes.

Even after a man or woman accepts the undeserved favor of Jesus Christ, Satan’s principal objective is to create separation between them and the Godhead. It’s the nefarious plan that was hatched in the Garden of Eden: distract the creation from the heart of Yahweh. Instead of being reverently grateful that God elevated us from our unworthiness by the blood of Jesus, we languish in this deceit that even though we are redeemed, God somehow doesn’t think we’re valuable enough to be cherished by Him and used in His kingdom.

This insecurity originated in the blasphemous utterances of Satan’s doctrine of desecration against Yahweh’s intentions toward man. He wants you to live a life of guilt and insecurity in God’s salvation so that you never become intimate with the Father’s love. I call it regressive Christianity because it stems from double-mindedness and a lack of faith in Jesus’ divine redemption. It’s an area where I seemingly had a Ph.D. in and I’ve learned that many have a similar familiarity.

They way to break out of this unworthiness is much like the journey of becoming an established NHL (National Hockey League) player. In professional hockey, a coach creates a game plan and each of the players must fill their unique roles in order to successfully execute the game plan. On the other hand, the opposing team has a game plan of their own and their goal is to subvert their opponent’s strengths as a means to display their own. The referees have the responsibility of keeping the game within the rules and communicating how the game is supposed to be played under the NHL commissioner’s office guidelines.

There’s a similar order for a Christian. Our coach is Jesus Christ, and the Father has given Him the authority as head of the church (the body of Christ). Our Savior has a plan for each our lives and a role in the kingdom of God that the Father wants us to carry out. Our teammates are our brothers and sisters in Christ who are collectively working for God’s will. The opposing team’s coach is Satan and his fallen followers make up the opposing side who want to counterfeit our coach’s perfect plan. The referee is the Holy Spirit. He communicates both the Father and the Son’s heart towards us and how they desire us to execute our Christian walk. The Commissioner is Yahweh himself, the Big Boss who owns the game itself.

And don’t forget one of the most important elements that often goes unmentioned: the Crowd. These people are a mix of believers and unbelievers who are watching your every move. They look to you for inspiration because they see you have gotten off the bench and are following this God you are always babbling about. Some in the crowd don’t understand why you play in the first place, but they see a certain spark in you that others don’t have. Some will mock and jeer, but others will look on, wishing they could have the privilege you do. A few have the same spark as you do, but they don’t feel as if they could ever amount to anything close like a professional.

The hidden secret is that some of the hockey players on the bench don’t feel worthy of their privilege to play either. Their play is motivated by the fear of failure, because they can recall every single mistake they’ve ever made. Every turnover and penalty haunts them, and they become driven by avoiding those faults instead of confidently playing to the best of the abilities that’s been given to them.

Each player (except for the goalie) plays on a line, which is a collection of three forwards (offensive players) and 2 defensemen. A team usually has four lines, so each line gets a shift, which is an allotted time that each line has before they rotate with another line and go to the bench to rest. There is a plethora of shifts that a player gets in a game, and it’s the same in the kingdom of God. We have our own calling by God to carry out and a team around us to strive for a similar goal. We are given multiple shifts or opportunities to carry out our calling and execute it to fullest of our God-given attributes.

However, the devil has deceived us and trapped us into remembering all of our shifts where we have turned over the puck (committed a sin), allowed the other team to score (opening the door to the enemy), and taken penalties (punishment for living outside God’s commands). In essence, far too many of us go out for our next shift with the memory of our prior turnovers and penalties. Before we know it, we’re naturally making sloppy plays and finding ourselves in the penalty box.

We forget that our coach (Jesus) died so that we don’t have to go out on our next shift with the burden of condemnation from our prior turnovers. That mistrust in our coach’s game plan (Jesus’ salvation) has us finding ourselves skating to the penalty box (separation from God because of sin) because we feel we’re guilty and don’t think our coach can use us. Instead of taking advantage of the next shift that our coach has given us, we find someone else to blame: it could be our teammates, the coach, the commissioner, our family or spouse at the game, the boo-birds in the crowd, etc. Most of the time, we take it out on the ref (the Holy Spirit). We get so frustrated by our own failures and can’t bear to admit to the stain on our testimony. Our refusal to accept responsibility has us skating by the ref, tossing a view choice descriptions toward him that have your grandmother hightailing it find the soap. Our denial ends up leaving us filthier than we started.

 We begin to live in the penalty box or as it’s jokingly referred to, “the sin bin.” We refuse to remember that Jesus’ (our coach) grace gets us out of the penalty box and subsequently, we continue to skate forlornly towards the penalty box, staring at the jumbotron and wondering what went wrong. Soon, we allow the guilt from the penalty to affect our play so much that the coach (Jesus) has to take away your playing time (opportunities in the kingdom). Don’t be the Christian that wallows in your failures so much that even though you’re still a Christian and part of the team, you’re not very effective. God will use someone else if you’re not willing to get out there, skate hard, and contribute.

These are the days for Christians to get off the bench and start scoring goals. That means we must get in tune with the Holy Spirit, listen to God’s calling, and start living in word and deed.No doubt we will get “cross-checked” in the back from time to time by the opposing team (demonic assignments against you) but we must not break our sticks against the boards in rage. The Holy Spirit doesn’t enjoy working with apostles that are more concerned with strangling a scapegoat rather than aligning his heart with that of our Father’s. Successful workers in the kingdom have found that the best revenge against the kingdom of darkness is to lay those impetuous feelings at Jesus’ feet. You might notice the nail marks in his feet as you bow, and then you remember that he died so you wouldn’t have to live a life chained to feelings.

Many will say, “Scoring goals isn’t for me.” Jesus died so that you can be saved and further his kingdom. You were bred for worship and redeemed for the outpouring of God’s love. If you are drowning in guilt, it’s essential to have faith that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). The only thing that prevents us from walking in it is our choice to remain guilty. Your time in the penalty box is up and now it’s time to charge out of that box and score a goal!

Many will roll their eyes at sports analogies but remember, half of us can barely bring ourselves to open a Bible much less sit still and read it. We like our sports better than our politics and religion, so I might as well redeem it for the Lord. The key is understanding that God is the lens through which we view sports. The Bible is how we see God and the result is that we will find His fingerprints all over our passions.

Kevin Cochrane is a nineteen year old writer and blogger with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with ears to hear to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. His mission is to live by the words he writes and develop his character along with the prose he pens. For updates on his latest blog posts, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email.

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