Game 2 of the NBA Finals is tomorrow night. The Celtics will be seeking to take the first of four big steps toward their 18th championship. Although we got outplayed in game 1, I am confident we will “show up” and take care of business in game 2. How will that happen? They will win as a team. It will take every team member, from K.G. to Scalabrine, playing their role and performing at a championship level. It may surprise you, but the church is not that different. In fact, the idea of team gets at the heart of what it means to be a church and is part of what enables a church to thrive. Let me explain…
The gospel brings people together . . .
Tim Keller has wisely pointed out that “the gospel creates a new community.” When God saves people and they decide to follow Christ, they take on a completely new identity. They now belong to the people of God, which means that they belong to God and to one another (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Rev. 5:9). When people are reconciled back to God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, they are necessarily reconciled back to one another and become part of the universal church (Eph. 2:11-22). [The universal church refers to all believers worldwide. Members of the universal church gather together in particular local churches like Redemption Hill.]
allowing them to accomplish more collectively . . .
As God brings people together to worship and serve him, his wisdom is displayed in countless ways (Eph 3:8). One of those ways is how He uses his people to accomplish his mission. Just look at the Bible for evidence: Jesus drafted a team of 12 disciples who carried out his mission after he ascended to heaven. The early church also sent out teams to spread the gospel (See Acts 13:1-3 where the church at Antioch commissioned Paul and Barnabus). The concept of team was also introduced by King Solomon who wrote: “Two are better than one . . . [and] a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:9-12).
through the individual gifts of each team member fulfilling their role . . .
When it comes to the mission of God, every follower of Christ brings something different to the table because the Holy Spirit equips believers with different gifts so that they can serve the church and the world (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12). Some excel in teaching and hospitality. Others excel in serving and generosity. Every person must play his or her role in order for a church to thrive. Think: Ray Allen knocking down threes; Rondo dropping dimes; Tony Allen guarding Kobe Bryant; Scalabrine waving his towel like Larry Bird (or doing the figure 8 – wow!); you get the point.
as a follower of Christ.
All of this happens as each individual remains devoted to Jesus. There are two important implications here. #1) God expects each person in the church to contribute to his mission. The mission of God is not relegated to the “superstars” of the church. #2) The quality of each person’s contribution to the team is dependent upon how closely they are following Jesus. In other words, each person’s love for God affects how well he or she serves the common goals of the church.
It will take more than one Celtic to beat the Lakers tomorrow night. It takes more than one soldier to win a war, and it takes more than one follower of Christ to start a new church. That’s why we follow the biblical precedent of accomplishing God’s mission as a team, praying and fasting together and trusting in his sovereignty together. By the way, my prediction for Sunday night: Celtics by 7.