I know that using a title like that, I might get accused of over-spiritualizing the football game between Texas A&M and UCLA on Saturday. For those of you who did not watch the game, the underdog Aggies took a 24-9 lead into the fourth quarter. This is well and good because I was hoping for an Aggie win to start the season, especially against a team that was ranked at Number 16 in the AP Top 25 polls. The fact that A&M was not ranked showed you how the sports writers of America view the Aggies. In the top 50, but not 25.
Nonetheless, the Aggies took a lead and for the first time in years, it was obvious that A&M had its defense back. Historically, A&M has always had great defenses and it was what made them fordable in years past.
But the lead, in a nationally televised game, had an effect on the coaching staff. Sumlin & Company decided to get very conservative in their play calling when it came to the offensive side of the ball. The theory goes that when you enter in the fourth quarter, you get conservative, and run the ball, so that nothing bad really happens. Or you just make short passes to pick up a few yards here and there. In other words, what gave A&M the lead in the way they played up until that point, was being abandoned in the hopes of holding on to the lead to get the win.
It was almost enough to cause them to lose the game. They quit with the game plan that gave them the lead. Anyone who watches sports has seen this happen time and time again. It’s quite frustrating for fans who have to watch their team slowly dwindle away and lose. In fact, just watching it happen, and seeing your team pull out the victory at the last moment, is really quite hollow because you know that in the end, your team…well, got lucky.
Now, take the same analogy and apply it to the church. What makes the church successful is when the body of Christ is being faithful to our calling, preaching God’s word, administering the sacraments, worshiping in Spirit and truth and striving for a life of holiness as the people of God. When we depart from those fundamental issues that we have been called to, is when we become weak.
I have watched the church over the last 25 years trying to make great strides in reaching and changing the culture. The effects of the efforts have been devastating to the state of the church. While the mega-church movement is alive and well, holiness is absent. While God’s love is readily preached, nothing of His holiness and judgement is mentioned. In an attempt to accommodate the culture, so that we somehow become more relevant, we have become just like the culture, tattoos and all. The church, as a whole, is no different than the culture we were seeking to change.
What happened? We lost focus with what makes the church, the church and tried to be more than what we were called to be. No where does God call us to change culture. He calls us to be holy, because He is holy. Yes, I know we are to make disciples. But those disciples are supposed to come into conformity with Christ and His word. In fact, there is scripture that says we should not be conformed to the world, Romans 12:1-2. Sadly, in trying to save the culture by becoming like the culture, we lost our identity as the people of God.
We are no different than a 1,000 coaches out there, who get satisfied with a lead, and lose focus with the calling. Coaches are called to win, not coast. And the church is called to be the people of God, not like the culture. Hopefully, we will repent and the LORD will still allow us an overtime win.