We have officially entered that time of year that many people (mostly men) look forward to with great anticipation: Football Season! Last night was the first NFL preseason game in Canton, Ohio. Each year several ex-NFL players are inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in Canton and a game is played in conjunction with the ceremony. This year one of my favorite players, Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys (go Cowboys!) entered the hall of fame. Among the football records Emmitt holds are the most rushing yards and the most rushing touchdowns in the history of the NFL. Records that are not likely to be broken very soon. It’s been pointed out by many that he was not the fastest running back in the NFL, nor the biggest, nor the most elusive, nor the most spectacular – he just holds the records. What made him so good? You could point to several things:
1. He was focused on a goal: From the time he entered the NFL his goal was to break those records and he never let anything get in his way.
2. He was dedicated to one thing: Just one thing – running with a football. He didn’t try to do everything. He just did one thing and he did it well.
3. He was prepared: He kept his body in shape; he made sacrifices; he did what it took to play the game of football.
But there was something else and even Emmitt knew how important it was: he had help. He could not have broken the records alone. In his speech he mentioned every offensive lineman who ever blocked for him. He also mentioned another of my favorite players – Daryl Johnston. Daryl was the fullback whose primary job for most of his eleven years in the NFL was to block men who were bigger and stronger so Emmitt could run. In eleven years Daryl only carried the ball 232 times – less than 2 times a game (Emmitt – 4,409 times!). He was not there to run, he was there to block. And he made Emmitt Smith one of the greatest running backs in the NFL. In his induction speech, Emmitt paid tribute to Daryl saying; “Daryl, you mean the world to me. Not just because we shared the same backfield but because you sacrificed so much for me …you took care of me as if you were taking care of your little brother.”
Let’s transition into the spiritual realm. We could go a number of different ways with this story, IE each of us are in the game of life, but how many of us will end up in God’s Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11)? Or we could ask are you doing what it takes to be the best Christian you can possibly be? Are you focused on the goal (Hebrews 12:1-2)? Or are you dedicated to one thing – living for Christ (Romans 12:1-2)? Or are you preparing yourself the way you should so that you live the kind of life God expects you to live (1 Peter 1:13-16)? But I would like to focus on this thought: none of us can do it alone. Just like Emmitt Smith could not have been an outstanding running back without the help of Daryl Johnston, none of us can be outstanding Christians without the help of other Christians. That’s why God gave us the Body of Christ. That’s why He gave us the local church. We need each other. I need you and you need me (and other Christians). Trying to live a godly life in this world without the help and encouragement of other believers is like trying to run the football without anyone blocking for us. It just won’t work. So the writer of Hebrews implores us not to give up attending church because it is there that we will rub shoulders with other believers and be encouraged in our walk with God (Hebrews 10:25). God knows that we need each other (1 Corinthians 12:20-26) and that without each other we are incomplete (1 Corinthians 12:15-19).
There is someone out there that needs you. They need the encouragement, the comfort, the friendship, and the example that only you can give. You may have to make some sacrifices but it will be worth it when you see them grow in their Christian life and cross the goal line, not to the roar of the crowds but the quiet, gentle voice of their Lord saying well done, good and faithful servant. And you can know that you had just a small part in their success.
Stay in the Word