Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Volleyball, killing sin, and playing well

I thought, “Bring it on!” after digging the ball that had so furiously been spiked by the opposing volleyball team’s front line. The 60 or 70 (or whatever) mile-per-hour ‘kill’ was softly lofted high into the air, perfectly placed for my teammate to initiate our team’s response. As the opposing team’s hits got harder and more difficult, did I feel sorry for myself? No way! Did I have a pity party – “oh why is he hitting it at me?” Not at all, in fact, with much enthusiasm, I hoped that I’d get another chance at the next one. The more blows, the more opportunities. Set a new goal, look for a better tactic, or help the team get better.

Fast forward to the day at work… as a co-worker wrongs me grievously; I’m evicted from my cushy office to a makeshift shack outdoors (really); funding for our programs gets cut; I get word that some of us might be going to play in the sandbox; more work and longer hours are required beyond what seems fair… Oh, where is that spirit of “bring it on!” now? Crushed by living life in the flesh, Paul would say in Romans 8:13.

Even in my work situations, to whine, complain, pout, or wallow are to reject God’s sovereignty and His law. “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.”

Recognizing this contradiction, while playing volleyball last night, also reminds me of the warfare aspect of living by the Spirit, in submission to God’s word. “Be killing sin or it will be killing you,” says John Owen in his book ‘The Mortification of Sin’. John Piper has said about killing sin that:
“It's a violence against all the impulses in us that would be violent to other
people. It's a violence against all the impulses in our own selves that would
make peace with our own sin and settle in with a peacetime mentality. It's a
violence against all lust in ourselves, and enslaving desires.”
In volleyball, we defend against the attacks of the opposition, and as a team, we work together to do our own “killing” of the ball, so to speak, as we strike to overcome our opposition. In the battle against sin (our true enemy!), the war is not fought with flesh and blood, but by the “sword of the Spirit, the word of God” and “prayer.” (Ephesians 6:17, 20)

So, last night we only won half of our games. Other nights we have gone 3-0 and 5-1, etc. Yet, I would say last night we were more victorious. We encouraged each other and never gave up, even when we were down by 12 points once (other nights you could just feel the discouragement when the points started sliding). No one argued with the referee about his judgments, and we laughed at our silliest mistakes instead of pouting. Everyone pressed on in the cause which was not as much about beating the other team, as it was to play well and enjoy each other. And I do believe God was glorified.

(Where am I in this metaphor? Perhaps sitting on the bench watching the show? Or keeping score? Or am I killing sin and helping out my sisters and brothers in Christ to kill sin?)

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