Bible Reading: Luke 9:1-36
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ? Well, if you look at many Christians to determine the answer…it would seem that it doesn’t mean much, at all. They look more like the fans in the stands at a football game…than the players on the field. Or maybe they look more like the guy sitting in the lounge chair at home with a drink and bowl of chips. Over weight and under achieving. And yet, he thinks that if he “really wanted to”…he could be out there playing in that game, himself.
Jesus raised the bar when He described what it means to be one of His followers. He used one word and that one word defines it perfectly…”cross”. He told us that if we are going to be His follower…then we have to follow Him all the way to the cross. The cross is a place to die. And Jesus tells us that to follow Him means that we die to ourself (our own will, and decisions) and be alive to Him. That means that we submit ourselves completely and totally to Him as the Lord of our life. And He says that we have to do so daily. That means in every situation. Not just the ones that we like, or the ones that we choose, or the ones that we think have benefits.
Being a follower of Christ is not for wimps. It takes dedication. But, the blessings that He gives His followers exceed everything that this life can ever offer.
(In the material that I give below it might appear that I have messed up the numbers and percentages. However, that’s because the number of players who make it to College and Pro are also affected by players from other countries and by the number of years that players stay in the Pros.)
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Think you’ve the stuff? Are you fast? Do you have good hand-eye coordination? How much can you bench press? Can you run a mile, 5 miles, 15 miles, without stopping? What is your vertical leap? Do you think you’ve got the stuff…to be a Professional athlete?
Every year there are hundreds, no thousands, of kids who dream of becoming a Professional Basketball, Baseball, Football, or Soccer Player. Oh, they’re good. They can beat their friends. They’ve won trophies. But do they have the stuff to go Pro? Look at these statistics and see what you think. Here is how to read them. In the year that these statistics taken, there were 541,054 High School Basketball Players. Of those, 1 out of 17 would play in College (32,190)….and 1 out of 1,860 would eventually play Pro (450).
High School Players College Players Pro Players
Basketball 541,054 32,190 (1 out of 17) 450 (1 out of 1,860)
Soccer 417,419 37,890 (1 out of 11) 560 (1 out of 835)
Baseball 482,629 55,410 (1 out of 9) 1,200 (1 out of 764)
Football 1,122,024 90,136 (1 out of 12) 1,696 (1 out of 603)
Professional Basketball Baseball Football Soccer
# of Teams 30 30 32 20
# of Players 15/team 40/team 53/team 28/team
# of Players Total 450 1,200 1,696 560
With odds like that…do you think that you’ll go Pro? Do you have the stuff?
So, what is it that makes the difference? Why does one athlete make it and another doesn’t…when they are very much alike? Well, certainly there are some people that are just naturally more physically suited to be a Pro athlete. They may be stronger, or taller, of faster, or bigger. But I know some strong, tall, fast, big people who never played Pro anything. What is the difference? To a very large degree it is dedication. And that is true, whether you are naturally suited…or whether you don’t seem to have what it would normally take physically…but, you beat the odds and make it, anyway. Dedication. That means that you…
- Exercise for hours and hours every single day
- Practice the same drill, the same play, over and over again, so that you know what to do in any situation
- Eat a certain diet and control your weight
- Watch films of your opponents before every single game
- Don’t do things that other people do because it might affect your game in a bad way
- Get the right amount of sleep and rest
- Get up early each day for practice
- Continuously travel, and stay at places other than your home, and be away from your family
- Do exactly what the coach tells you to do
- Work with other players to support each other
- And the list gets even longer!
Dedication. Even if you were born with all the natural physical abilities that could make you into a great athlete…without dedication…you will never be one. It takes total dedication. You have to dedicate your life completely…to the game. In a sense…the game owns your life.
But, that dedication can have amazing benefits. If you go Pro…you will make lots of money, you will be well known, you will be doing what you enjoy, you will be doing something that few other people will ever have the opportunity to do, and you will have a chance to be on a championship team. There are rewards for dedication.
Did you know that Jesus told His disciples the same thing? If you are going to be a follower of Jesus…you have to go Pro…
- you can’t just sit in the stands and watch.
- you can’t just show up occasionally for practice, or for a game.
- you can’t make up your own rules.
Jesus said that if you are going to follow Him…then you have to take up your cross every day. Remember, a cross is place where people die. Jesus was saying that you have to die to yourself…and be alive to Him…if you are going to be His follower. Now that is dedication. Some people think that to be a follower of Jesus means that you just kind of believe some stuff about Him and go to church on Christmas and Easter (those folks are called Chreasters…get it, Christmas + Easter?). You decide which of the 10 Commandments you want to follow and which ones you don’t want to follow. But that’s not what Jesus said. Do you think that anyone would ever make it as a Pro athlete if they decided for themselves when they would practice, what games they would play in, what they would eat, and what teams they would play for? Not gonna’ happen! So, why do we think that it would take any less dedication to be a follower of Jesus?
But don’t forget the benefits of going Pro with Jesus…forgiveness, joy, peace, love, eternal life…and that’s just the beginning of God’s blessings! There is nothing more valuable, nothing more important, in all of the world…than to be a follower of Jesus.
Can Granddad tell you something? I think you’ve got the stuff. I think that you’re going to go Pro for Jesus…be on His team…and serve Him for all of your life. I think that you are going to dedicate your life to Him…because He has already dedicated His life to you. He loved you so much that He gave His own life for you. Now, show Him how much you love Him by giving your life to Him. Go Pro…for Jesus!
Love you more than bunches and bunches,