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I love baseball. When summer rolls around, I hop on the freeway and head over to Angels stadium to catch a game. There’s just something about the smell of the grass and that first bite of a hot dog that makes me feel like a kid again. And while baseball may be the great American pastime, it’s also a good analogy for our interaction with Christ.
Let me explain…
James B. Torrance called the doctrines of union and participation the “twin doctrines” of Christianity. You really can’t have one without the other. They work together like this: God united himself to us, through Christ, so that we could be reconciled to him and participate in the ministry of Jesus. Christ’s incarnation gives us an identity. You could say that we were drafted onto his team and handed a uniform.
Paul wrote about this in Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
But we know Christianity isn’t a spectator’s sport. We’re not supposed to just show up to the stadium and watch God do all the work. Christ, as our head coach, has called us into relationship with him. He’s given us his love, his forgiveness and his word to strengthen us as believers. He’s given us a position or purpose to play on the field. And that’s where our participation starts.
The fruit of our relationship with Christ is that we join him in his ministry to call others to him. For some, that participation can look like running a food cupboard for the homeless. Others might participate by planting churches around the world. And still others may sit in prayer, listening for God. All of these forms of participation are valid. And there are many more.
So the next time you’re in church and you feel like wanting to do a seventh inning stretch, just remember: you’re not on the sidelines, you’re already in the game!
I wish a lot more of us would say, “Put me in, Coach!”