From the 'Deep End': Any given Sunday
Do you think Peyton Manning is excited about the Super Bowl for the commercials? I wonder if he’s pumped to see what Doritos or Pepsi have thought of, or how they’re going to incorporate Beyoncé, a cute dog and a guy getting hit in the crotch in a fresh new way to create the most memorable Super Bowl commercial ever. I’m sure he’s studied the best commercials of Super Bowls past and will make a well thought out prediction about who will come away as the victor on the advertising industry’s biggest night.
It seems rediculous to think that Peyton Manning would be interested in the commercials during a night that he’s worked his whole life to prepare for, but that’s the level of commitment some people have to the Super Bowl. A few people get to play in the game, a few more cheer in the stands for their team, others watch on TV and some just watch for the commercials.
In a lot of ways, this is how the church works. There are some that have little or no interest in God or church. There are some that are in the “nosebleeds” and go every once in a while but aren’t exactly “fans” yet. Some follow Jesus and are “season ticket holders” at a church and go every week. Fewer are actually on the field serving and committing their time to church. Part of the church’s job is to get people to make the transition from wherever they are to the next step, whether it’s getting someone to move from the parking lot of the stadium into the cheap seats, or encouraging someone get down on the field and be part of the team.
Even though I’m now a pastor, there used to be a time when I thought I would never set foot in a church. My wife would invite me to church and share her passion for Christ with me, so I came a few times, but I didn’t have a lot of commitment. As time went by though, I began to see that there was something to this whole church and God thing. Sometimes the pastor would speak and his words were like touchdowns in my heart that would inspire me.
Pretty soon my wife no longer had to invite me because I wanted to come to church. Then one day I committed my life to Christ and that was when I moved to the “high-priced” seats where I was no longer just a spectator, I was committed and people could see a change in me because I had decided to follow Christ. It didn’t take long until I was volunteering and giving my time to serve at the church and I had moved from sitting in the stands to being on the field, participating in the game.
Jesus understood this principle and always reached people in whatever seats they were in. In the book of John, we can see that He had followers at all different stages and some followed him just to find out what He was about:
John 6:1-2: Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed Him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.
While a lot of people would follow Jesus, only a handful were certain that He was God, even fewer were His disciples and would go on to start the Christian Church and write what would become the Bible. But even Jesus’ disciples started as just followers, curious to see if Jesus was all that He said He was.
As the church, we need ask ourselves what we can do to help those outside the ballpark make it into the upper decks, those in the upper decks to take a step into the lower decks and how to challenge those in the lower deck to get on the playing field and conrtibute to the team. On any given Sunday there will be people given a true representation of Christ for the first time and they, too, will discover that maybe Jesus is who He says He is. But that requires us to get into the game.
Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at email@example.com.