Monday, August 4, 2014

Out of the Park

One thing I like about 'inner city' life is being near the stadium.  Nothing says summertime more than hearing the cheer of the crowd carried along by the night air.  It is familiar.  Inclusive.  A welcome backdrop drawing us into the world of the people around us. 

I was recently running around the track, my girls playing their own game in the middle, when a foul ball came flying over the stadium bleachers.  The girls managed to retrieve it and were delighted with their find.  Excited, they rushed over, grinning from ear to ear.  I have to admit that I was excited as well.  To think that what we now held in our hands was handled by the pitcher of the GJ Rockies, was an incredible thought.  

We've seen the action from inside the ball field.  When a foul ball is hit, flying over the net and into the bleachers, the fans clamor to catch it, for it is finders keepers, their own personal souvenir.   Now and then the ball soars high, completely over the press box, to the football field and track on the other side.  That was us. 

Yesterday, I listened as our youth group gave a report on their missions trip.  Stepping up to the plate, they knocked it out of the park.  And I could not help but think of this house of believers that we call the church.  We cheer in unison for the glory of God.  It is an impromptu response, connecting us with one another in the bonds of love.  From that setting, salvation to all people through Jesus Christ is sent to foreign places, and lands outside the ball field. 

Yet, I've been troubled with this movement that abandons fellowship, while at the same time, seeks the benefit of a home run.  Some decide they don't like the team and have their own idea on how to play and so they leave, not realizing that to hit the ball out of the park, you must first be in the ball field. 

It saddens me that many are moving toward social causes, neglecting the source of eternal need, a changed heart by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  There is often great passion over issues but little concern that people be saved from eternal suffering.  Recently a large mission organization announced their ambition, "to rid the entire world of poverty".  True, we are to help the needy, but our ultimate goal is to bring them to Jesus.  Our calling is not to end all poverty.

While some resist the church, I'm reminded that Jesus gave His life for her, and it is through her, imperfect as she is, that God has entrusted His most precious possession, the message of salvation to all people.  We must love this living organism called the church and be participators within it, for Jesus loves His people.

Isolated from the body of Christ, we run circles around the track.  And though we work hard at fighting social causes, ultimately we are missing the game. 

The base from which we are sent out is so much more than good works.  All eyes turn toward Christ in worship.  He is the one lifted high.  Plus there is fellowship with one another in accountability, encouragement, and equipping, as we look forward to our heavenly kingdom.  Bringing good news to the nations is an overflow of the home field. 

Each person is a key player, the molding of character as much a part of the equipping as spiritual gifts, members of the team which function within the boundaries of the field.  And when a batter hits the ball out of the park we all rejoice together recognizing our unified purpose of bringing the lost home. 

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