This Sunday many of us will watch the Super Bowl. I've been a football fan for over 50 years. I can remember watching Super Bowl 2 when the Green Bay Packers beat the Oakland Raiders. Watching the Super Bowl has been a tradition for me ever since. The thing that I've noticed over the years is that the team with the best game plan usually wins. If the defense is prepared and ready for the plays the opposing team runs and the offense catches them off guard, they're going to win the game. One of the reasons the Patriots are favored this year is because Bill Belichick has a reputation for designing an outstanding game plan against an opponent.
The Bible tells us God's game plan for winning in life. It's a simple but effective game plan. Believe in Jesus who died for your sins and rose again and he'll forgive your sins and give you eternal life (Acts 2:38-39). Winning also means living a life of moral and ethical integrity - God says, "Be holy as I am holy." (1 Peter 1:14-16) We are to make disciples, be Jesus' witnesses to the people we know, and be Christ's ambassadors to the world (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21). We are to be a blessing to others (James 2:14-19) and serve the Lord in the church (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). And we're to tithe (Malachi 3:6-12, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15). If we follow God's game plan, we'll win at life and earn the commendation of our Savior, "Well done, good and faithful servant..." (Matthew 25:21).
Equally important, the church needs to follow God's game plan if it's going to win. It's said that 90% of churches in America are plateaued or declining. I would suggest that many, if not most, of those churches are not following the coach's (God's) game plan. They just keep running the same plays they've run for years, and they don't work anymore. What is the game plan for the church? We need to know who the owner is - the church is the body of Christ - he owns it (1 Corinthians 12). It's not our church - it's his church. The coach is the Holy Spirit, he guides, directs and empowers the church (Acts 1:4-8). The goal of the church is to be Jesus witnesses to the world (Acts 1:8), every person we reach for Christ is a touchdown. We also adhere to the Biblical principle of "justice" as we help the poor, sick, and grieving and resist the evil we see in the world.
I don't want to just do enough to sneak into heaven. I want to win as a Christian and I want to be part of a winning team: the church. I want to go into heaven ready to meet my Savior because I've given my life to serve him. I want to say like Paul, who looked back on his life and said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8) Don't just play the game - win!