We are going to play football today. Not a pro game. Not against the kids in the next neighborhood. Not against another school. Not another stadium. This is a home team scrimmage. This is where you learn the game. This is where you prepare for the real game.
Today I am going to teach the church something about football.
As a general rule, I don’t debate on here. There have been several men, who have taken it upon themselves to “educate” me, since I started this blog. They usually throw all the verses about submission at me first. They tell me how many verses I am ignoring and how far out of context they think I am. So far, most if not all of them, have turned out to be the exact type of abusive guys I write to.
The most recent came from a guy using as many big words as college freshmen can retain. He inserted my name in every other sentence, like he was training a dog. He insisted that I was actually the cause of the miserable divorce rate within the church. He called me and Joel Davisson “straw men.” He then informed me that he was going to use his own website, which doesn’t even exist yet, to critique and undermine my site. Oh good. I made more friends.
Here’s the biggest problem I have with all that. It’s just one more Christain burning up their life and energy fighting another Christian.
Maybe he thinks I am doing the same. He has only read a couple of my posts, he doesn’t yet understand the whole purpose of this. I am trying to get you guys to think differently about your wives and family. I am trying to get the church to see the biggest problem we have. We are allowing our families to fall apart while we rush off to “save the world.” We are neglecting the first person in our life, to help the next. It’s just wrong. When I see a man neglecting or abusing his wife, I know all indeed to know about him. He does not understand covenant. He doesn’t understand his team.
Got all that? Now, let’s play ball.
During the course of a football season, recreation league teams will have about 10 actual games, maybe less. That’s over a few months, depending on where you live and how they setup the rules. Some leagues only practice once or twice a week. Some practice four or five times a week. So, while you may end up with three or four actual games each month, you might have fifteen or twenty practice games. My beloved Atlanta Falcons show four preseason games and sixteen season games this year. They show thirty three practice sessions before the first preseason game.
Thirty three practice sessions before the first game. Still with me?
During these practice sessions, they will turn their own offense against their own defense. Their own defensive players will play just as hard against their own teammates as if it were a real game. Their own offense will defend the quarterback and try to outsmart them. Their own coaches will push them to fight as hard in practice as they will in a game. The coaches will yell and make ridiculous physical demands of these guys. The players will sweat and hit and run just like they will in a game. It may even be worse.
It’s not a social gathering. They aren’t there to be buddies. They are there the beat each other into better players. They practice to push themselves to become the best. They aren’t playing for points or statistics, they are playing to prepare for points and statistics. Other than that, what’s the big difference between practice and a game?
They are still on the same team when it’s all over.
They don’t leave the field in separate groups. The offense doesn’t walk off talking about the next time they get to crush the defense. The defense isn’t plotting the demise of their own quarterback. They don’t hate each other. They might talk about how practice went. They might even talk a little trash about each other. But it’s all part of being a team. They are pushing each other for the good of the team. They are still on the same team. They are just preparing for their actual purpose. Practice isn’t the game.
Do you hear me?
The church is supposed to come together to make each other stronger. Not just to socialize and enjoy the show. The real game is doing the work of the church. Being Christlike. Seeking and saving the lost. Healing, helping, loving, giving. Actually being like Christ to draw unbelievers in. I have never met anyone who joined a church because someone argued them into it. They join churches because they want what you have. Does anyone want what you have? Do they want their life to look like yours?
I don’t hate the church. It’s the bride of Christ. I don’t talk trash about anyone’s bride. I don’t hate anyone. I don’t write just to beat you guys up. I am trying to make my team stronger. I am trying to get you guys to focus and get your priorities straight. I need to see you put your own families in their proper place in your lives. I need you to stop neglecting the most important people, just to be a hero to random people. Or to maintain an image. Or satisfy your own ego.
Every guy, who has challenged me, has done it with contempt. Like they want me thrown off the team. Like my coaching doesn’t suit their standards. I have encouraged every one to seek more counseling. I have tried to get them to treat their families better. Some just can’t accept it. Some have actually listened and seen their families restored. Most just walk off the field to cry about their feelings getting hurt. Or to go back to the coach of the losing team they came from. Whatever. Grow up.
I don’t coddle. If someone sounds like a spoiled rotten abusive little jerk, there’s a pretty good chance I am going to point it out. If your arguments are all about using scripture to make your wife a servant, I am going to call you out on it. If you are going to openly criticize me and my closest friends, I consider that a direct challenge. Insult me, attack me, threaten me and it’s “game on.” I have the same playbook that you have. My bible reads just like yours.
The difference is, I am trying to use mine to make the church stronger, not just look good. I am not trying to satisfy my own ego. If you pay attention, I am actually writing about all my failures in here. This is more like a list of thing that I know will destroy a family. I am practically handing you guys the stones to throw at me.
I can still defend my position. I know the bible. I also know why we have it. It’s not supposed to be a weapon against the church. It’s supposed to help the church. We are pursuing Christlikeness. Trying to do what He would have done. What I write about is what has worked in my own family. It’s my own life. I know it works.
So here’s the deal.
We are on the same team. I don’t want you to go away mad. I want you to put on the big boy pants and stay in the game. I want you to grow up and get past all the selfishness. I want you to respect your other teammates. Take you correction and learn from someone who has actually been in real combat. Someone who might come off as abrasive and mean sometimes, but is honestly here to make the team stronger.
As I told my new friend, we talk a little different in Georgia, where I grew up. We tell folks that if you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one who is making all the noise is the one that got hit. When you jump on me and talk trash about me, I just assume you got hit.
I got hit. I got hit hard. When the bible talks about the diffidence in falling on the rock versus having the rock crush you to power, think of me. I had to get crushed. I was broken in more ways that I can stand think about. But it wasn’t to destroy me. It was to rebuild me into a decent man. The guy I had become had to be taken down. I couldn’t live like that. I was hurting my family and making the church look foolish. Someone had to stop me and they did. They saved my life. They saved my family.
Take the hit, learn from it and move on. It’s part of the game.