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Yesterday I got to spend some time talking with an amazing young lady from our middle school youth group. I love whenever we get to spend time talking, because she is so incredibly smart, and asks super intelligent questions.
So, we were talking about Jesus, faith, demons, life, and a bunch of other stuff, and I needed an illustration. We walked in the gym and began talking about dodgeball. It always comes back to dodgeball, doesn’t it?
Let’s say we’re playing dodgeball. One team has a leader who is clearly in charge. He gives encouragement to his team, shows them the best places to throw, and helps them come back in the game when they get knocked out. He really wants his team to play as well as they can, and does whatever it takes to make that happen.
The other team has a leader, but they handle it completely differently. They convince everyone that there isn’t really a “leader” on the team, and that everyone can do whatever they want. They scare everyone on their team about losing, about not being in control, about what will happen if they screw up. They manipulate people into playing the game in ways that aren’t fair, and don’t really help them win. But everyone on the team is convinced there really isn’t a team captain, that everyone is just in charge of their own little game. It’s not true, but that’s what they all believe.
Who’s going to win? Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that the team with the clear cut leader is going to play better, enjoy the game, and win at the end.
This is how life works. The Bible tells us that in life, we are either for God or against Him. (Matthew 12:30). So often we think if someone is “against God” they must be this horrible, evil psycho killer. Not really. To be against God just means you are not with Him. That’s all. You are on one team or the other. To be on God’s team means you’ve decided that He is in charge, He’s the team captain, and He gets to call the shots. He tells us the best places to throw, when to do it, when to run, and when to charge. The better we get at following His lead, the better our team does, and the more fun the game is. God’s team, we are told, is powered by love. Not that wimpy “I love you” stuff from movies. Legit love. Love that will sacrifice for the team. Love that will encourage someone when they mess up, not yell at them for a bad throw. Love that knows it’s better to win as a team than to win alone. Love that wants the Team Captain to win, and will do whatever it can to see that happen. Love that is patient, kind, forgiving, hopeful, and more (1 Corinthians 13).
To be against God means we have decided we don’t want His leadership, we want to be on a team where we call the shots ourselves, and no one tells us what to do. The Bible usually will call this “the world” when it talks about it. We want to do things our way, not His. So we play on the other team. Just like in dodgeball, there are only two teams. There is no third team in this game (Team Love, and Team Fear).
But there’s a catch isn’t there? The Bible is pretty clear that this team full of people doing their own thing really does have a leader, he’s just crafty enough to make everyone think he’s not really running the show. Satan is the one in charge, pulling the strings, manipulating the game. He just wants everyone to THINK he’s not in charge, but he is. The Bible is clear about it. He uses fear to run his team. He scares everyone into doing what he wants. Why do you want to be in charge of your own life, your own game? So that you can make sure no one can hurt you or leave you. That’s fear. So that you can make sure you get everything in life you want. That’s fear. So that you can be important or liked by others. That’s fear. Every move this team makes is based on fear. It always is.
In dodgeball, the only thing separating the two teams is a line on the ground. No walls or towers, just a line. Anyone is free to cross from Team Fear to Team Love at any time. Team Fear’s captain will try to scare you into staying (You can’t go over there, you’re not good enough. What if they don’t want you? What if you fail?). But it’s just a line. You can move across at any point, Team Love’s Captain actually encourages it. He wants you to come be a part of the team. Everyone. (John 3:16).
So, what keeps you from crossing the line?