With the beginning of baseball season, this caught my eye on facebook from my friend and preaching colleague, Jim Deason. Jim admits that he was “a passionate Atlanta Braves fan,” but now is just a “casual fan.”
While reading the baseball scores, Jim came across this line regarding the Phillies-Braves game from the night before. “Herrera roped a would-be double to right, but he loafed into second base and was tagged out by Dansby Swanson.” To Jim’s delight, Swanson plays for the Braves, and the loafer, Herrera, the Phillies.
Then, Jim posted this pertinent observation:
“Considering second base to be the midpoint of life, just how many Christians are doing the same thing, i.e., “loafing into second base”?
“It seems that we can be passionate about sports, family, our jobs, etc.,” Jim observed, “but often very little passion is demonstrated toward the Lord’s work, evangelism, the process of growing people (read “the church” here)?
Then he asked a question, I would like for you to consider, “How many are ‘loafing into second base’”?
Consider these exhortations to first century Christians and by application and implication to each of us who wear the name of Christ.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor 9:24).
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14)
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8).
Diligent. Effort. Run. Press. Watchful. These are not the words describing someone loafing into second base. These are words of action and activity. To remain faithful as a Christian and to grow as God desires requires diligence. It takes effort. It demands persistence and perseverance. It calls for commitment, consistency, and consecration.
In addition to the world of sports, we understand financial success also requires diligent effort. The wise man of Proverbs observed this fact 3,000 years ago. “ He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Prov 10:4). Dave Ramsey has become rich and famous teaching people how to manage their finances. Awareness and persistence are required to live below one’s income. To save money. And to invest for the future.
Why, then, should we think that Christianity is any different? Diligence is demanded if we are to grow spiritually, resist the temptations of the flesh and faithfully follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Ministry, evangelistic outreach, and involvement in the fellowship of the church family require persistent effort.
In the post, Jim says that he’s “just rounded third and I’m headed home.” I’m one or two steps ahead of him. And like Jim, I don’t want to be caught loafing! And neither should you.
Don’t loaf into second base. You just might be called, “out.” And what an eternal loss that would be.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman