The Super Bowl is Sunday.  One of the big stories that you’ve been hearing about is Ray Lewis, the pro bowl linebacker.  He’s one of the greats of the game and this is his last year.  It’s a great story that the Super Bowl will be his last game as a pro.  It’s been great career.

Now picture this:  It’s Super Bowl Sunday.  All the hype is in the past.  The stadium is electric with energy.  The teams are lining up for kickoff and the television camera pans through the crowd and you suddenly see something unexpected.  Ray Lewis, in full gear except for his helmet, is sitting in the stands.  You see him yelling “Go Ravens” with a beer in one hand and popcorn in the other.  That would be stupid!

Ray Lewis is part of the team.  He’s supposed to be on the field.  He has a job to do.  Why would he be in the stands watching?

Some people I know are like that.  They claim to be part of the church but they have never really gotten involved.  They never serve.  They never give.  They just come and sit for an hour if there is nothing better to do that day.

“The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him-and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by.”  -Frances Chan

Think about that for a moment.  Let it sink in.

If that’s you, I just want to say that the Church NEEDS YOU.   YOU need God and you also need the church.  It all goes together.  1 Corinthians 12 talks about how we’re all given “gifts” by God to use for His purposes.  If you aren’t there for your purpose, the Church isn’t all that it’s supposed to be.  Just like the Ravens would miss Ray Lewis, the Church misses you if you’re sitting in the stands watching.

Besides the Church missing you, you can’t grow into all that God has for you if you aren’t on the “field”, playing with the team.  You need God and walking with Him means serving Him and being part of a local church.  He said that in the Bible.  I didn’t make it up.  If you want a life that will count towards something that will last forever, get on the field.  It’s time for the game NOW.

There are pitfalls to serving as a youth monster.  Besides the typical pizza overloads and toilet paper mishaps in my yard, I once blew my ACL playing basketball as I was serving a church in Charlotte, North Carolina.   The doc said he could fix my knee but surgery was required.  After my surgery, my doctor said that I needed to go to rehabilitation with my knee.

At the time, I was in a Bible study with Chip Sigmond, the strength coach for NBA’s (then) Charlotte Hornets.  As Chip and I were talking about my rehab, he offered to help me get my knee back in shape.  I was pretty pumped.

When we got started with the rehabbing, Chip normally met me at the local gym but one  day he said, “Eddie, I’m slammed today.  Do you mind driving over to the Hornets training facility and letting me work with you there?”

I held my excitement in and responded something like, “Yes.  I think I can probably make it over there.”  The truth is, I was not only ok with that.  I couldn’t wait to get there and let him inflict pain on my knee.  I had never been inside a pro sports facility before.  Heck, I would have blown my knee out before then if I’d known I’d have gotten this opportunity.  (Not really).

Upon entering the facility, we went straight to the weight room and Chip began working me out.  I was about half way through the workout when Hersey Hawkins, the Hornet’s point guard, came into the room.  He glanced over at us for a few seconds like he was going to say something and then went about his business.  I thought it would be cool to meet him but kept my poker face.  I acted like it was no big deal to see one of the most famous athletes in the NBA at that time.

Chip spoke to Hersey and kept working me out.  After about ten minutes, Hersey looked over at us and walked to where we were.  He looked like he may have been a bit embarrased or maybe even irritated.   He looked at me and asked Chip, “Who is this?”

Chip looked a bit reluctant at that moment, maybe even a bit embarrased too that he had brought an “intruder” into the gym.  Chip then said, “Sorry Hersey.  I didn’t want to bother you.”  Hersey smiled and then responded, “Bother me?  I WANT TO MEET HIM!!”  Hersey smiled again and stuck out his hand to me.

I’ve always thought that was really cool.  Hersey acted like I was the most important person in the world and he was honored to meet ME.  He made me feel like it was the best day of HIS life because he GOT to meet me.  He humbled himself.  No wonder he went on to win the NBA sportsmanship award in his final year in the NBA.

I was reminded of this story this morning when I read Philippians 2:3:  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others as more important than yourself.”

Sometimes we have to get off of our high horse and realize that we’re not the center of the universe.  It’s not about you.  It’s not about me.  It’s about Him and it’s about the work that we have to do in the few short years that we’re here on Earth.  That’s it!

Hersey went out of his way to humble himself and reach out to me.  I hope that I always remember his example.

There is not one person that you will look in the eye today that Jesus Christ did not die for.  Every person that you see today is important and EVERY PERSON matters to God.  Do they matter to you?  Do they matter to me?

Let’s examine our motives and ask God to help us see people how He sees them.  Let’s serve others like THEY are the most important person in the world.

Remember:  “If you do it to the least of these….”  You know the rest.

This is a great video that shows a bit more of the heart and leadership of Tim Tebow.  Let me know what you think.

What are your thoughts of this video?

BTW, here’s another post that I wrote about Tebow and his faith vs. the media and other doubters:

Tim Tebow “Controversy”

December 6, 2011

Did you hear the big controversy surrounding Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow?

It was covered on the O’Reilly Factor and other major television news outlets.  An arrest warrant was issued last week for failing to pay his child support- no wait, that was Terrell Owens.  Was he arrested for murder, then released for being in the company of a group that stabbed a guy to death?  No.  That was Baltimore Ravens All Pro, Ray Lewis.  Tebow wasn’t even involved in “making it rain” in a strip joint like Pacman Jones.

Tim Tebow’s “controversy” is that he gives glory to God, goes down on one knee after scoring (Now called “Tebowing”), and he talks about his love for Christ publicly.  It’s not that Tebow thinks that God favors the Broncos over the Titans or any other NFL team.  It’s just that Tebow believes that if he is able to do anything good in this life, it’s simply because God gave him the ability to do it and he wants to always remember that.  It’s actually a humble act in his mind and heart of giving God the glory.

Tebow is human and like everyone, he has his faults.  That is perhaps never more obvious than in his college team of choice-the Florida Gators.  (If he was totally following God, he most likely would have played college ball for the Tennessee Vols but that’s another story.  God has forgiven him for that.)   Most likely, his deep rooted convictions will keep him on the path that many young men with sudden wealth and fame of pro sports fall victim to.

One of his critics has been fellow NFL quarterback, Jake Plummer.  Plummer recently said, “i wish he’d just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates.”

Yet another NFL quarterback, Aaron Rogers, claiming to be a devout believer, recently spoke about the issue on ESPN.  He said, “I feel like my stance and my desire has always been to follow a quote from St. Francis of Assisi who said, ‘Preach the gospel at all times.  If necessary, use words.”

Rogers went on to explain that he’s not an “over the top” kind of guy and he would rather have people ask him why he behaves the way he does rather than him telling everyone.  He said this in reference to being asked about Tebow’s outspokenness.

I’m not sure how well that’s working for Rogers.  Before reading the ESPN quote, I actually didn’t have any idea that Rogers was a believer.  His actions just aren’t speaking out to a dark world as loudly as Tim Tebow.  Perhaps Rogers is making a difference with some of his teammates and quietly working behind the scenes.  I know that other NFL players, such as Matt Hasselback of the Titans, are very bold in some of their relationships with teammates about their faith.  There should be more grace given to anyone, be it Rogers or Tebow, if they are truly striving to be the person that God has called them to be.  He has certainly blessed both men with a platform of influence and talent.

Pro athletes are blessed with a lot and Scripture says that if that’s the case, a lot is expected.  Tebow is trying to be the best “Tebow” that he can be, for the God who loves him.  I don’t believe in throwing stones but if you’re going to be throwing them, does a 24 year old young man who is successfully being a good role model to many in this world who needs a role model need to be the target?  I don’t think so.

What are your thoughts?