I was chatting with a parent of one of our young people recently and they were telling me about the hours of committment their son was putting into his beloved motor sport. He was required to work from 10:00am until 2:00am and to work hard. Exposed to extremely high pressure, demanding circumstances, unexpected challenges, unpredictable weather conditions and many other kinds of daunting obstacles to their attempts at success. And all at his own personal cost…not only did he not get paid a cent, but he was required to cover all of his own costs.
I have to say, I was impressed by how hard they work to overcome all these challenges and always do their best to succeed. Now I am a motorsport fan, but even as a fan, I was also challenged by how these teams can require such total, sold out committment from young people…and get it!
If we asked for this kind of committment from any age group in our church, we are labelled “legalistic” or “demanding” or “controlling“…and yet in motor sport it is perfectly normal and acceptable.
In many sports, such practices are fine. It is nothing to be told by a coach, that if we want to play the game on Saturday, we are required to attend mid-week training sessions…every week, rain, hail or shine! (And we should…be very wary of those who consider themselves too good for training and just move on to an option that allows them to play without training!)
In fact, it is also normal practice in our work places. If we want to keep our jobs, we know exactly what time we are required to arrive, how long we have to stay and what we should be doing between those times. We commit to fulfilling those obligations and dedicate 5 or 6 days a week to them, sowing all our available (and required) time and energy into our workplaces.
I would love to think we are that dedicated to our workplaces or even maybe our employers, but I have been around long enough to know, that what we are really dedicated to is those funds that turn up in our bank accounts each month. This explains our dedication to our work places, but what about our sporting clubs and other places we freely give our lives away with no thought of “legalism“?
Getting back to my young motor sport enthusiast friend, I asked his parent how the teams involved got such committment from young people with so little return. The answer was a resounding “This is his passion“. He radically sows his life into a motor sport team, because motor sport is his passion and where he intends to one day build a career. In this stage of his life, he gives away whole weekends and countless other hours, investing thousands of dollars into cars and other equipment all because he is passionate about his sport. In the future he will give away even more and more of his life to this sport in return for funds arriving in his bank account and if he gets good enough at it, some fame.
Whilst this is somewhat admirable, the question must be asked, “What is my passion, and is it worthwhile?”. I guess if we are going to have a career, it is best to have one we enjoy and are passionate about. This will seemingly lessen the “cost” of our chosen career on our lives, but the reality is that even the best career doing something we absolutely love, is still only temporary. We are willingly, tirelessly and endlessly, sowing our lives into something that will count for absolutely nothing in eternity. And yet, if any of our church leaders asks us to get involved and serve, we cannot commit to a team because we are too busy with all of our other life committments. If they ask again, we label them “legalists” and withdraw to continue selling our lives to the highest bidder.
My question is this: “Why are we not as passionate about Jesus as we are about things like sports and careers?“…after all, he really is, the highest bidder! The only answer I can think of, is that we are not living with eternity in mind. We think we will worry about eternity in eternity and live this life for this life. The Bible (I know, how dare I bring that into anything!) teaches that the purpose of this life is to invest it into the next life. How we live now (where we invest our lives) will affect the quality of our eternity. We are taught that we can make choices to invest our Earthy lives into our eternal lives. We can live now, in such a way that our eternal life will be even better! But if we miss this truth and just live this life for this life, we miss the greatest opportunity we will ever have to impact our own lives…for the longest time. We may think we need our careers to provide for us in this life and things like superannution to help us take care of ourselves later in life, (and those are good and recommended things!) but what about after that? If we think that is the end, it is understandable that we would sell out for this life, but if we understand there is life to come after this one, it really does change the way we think about this life. 70-100 years is an extremely short time in an eternal context. Why would we waste them investing only into them, when we can choose to invest them into eternity? Only because we are not living with eternity in mind!
Andrew Carnegie said this: “And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret – concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it. The concerns which fail are those which have scattered their capital, which means that they have scattered their brains also. They have investments in this, or that, or the other, here, there and everywhere. ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ is all wrong. I tell you ‘put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.’ Look around you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks the most eggs in this country.”
Jesus teaching in the Bible agrees. He said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all the rest will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus says put all your eggs in one basket, but make sure that basket is going to last for all eternity, by making it the one who made eternity. He also taught, that when we do that, he will take care of us in this Earthly life too. When we spend all our time trying to take care of our own Earhtly lives, we are proving that we don’t really trust his ability to do so (even if we say we do) and think we will be better of relying on ourselves. We get distracted and caught up in temporal things…at the expense of eternal quality.
We need a modern church that is sold out again to seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and whose primary passion in life is once again Jesus Christ. We need believers who are more committed to Jesus than their employers or their sporting coaches and will invest their lives in the many ways Jesus teaches us to instead of spending them on our own gain and Earthly interests.
We need to learn to live again, with eternity in mind.