This past weekend my son had the opportunity to play in a baseball tournament. I’m not gonna lie to ya, it was painful. They were the only local Parks and Rec team playing against travel teams. Serious teams. Teams that practice during the winter and play in competitions most weekends throughout the summer. Our kids lost every single game. Badly. I think in four games they scored a grand total of 5 runs, which wasn’t even half of what the other teams scored against them in one game. It was obvious from about the second inning of the first game that we were way out of our league. The kids knew there was no way they could possibly win against these other teams, but they kept playing nonetheless. No one quit or walked away or threw their glove down in disgust. I’m sure they were frustrated, but they kept on going. They pulled together as a team and encouraged each other through it all. And at the end of the day, they all put their hands in and yelled out their team name together proudly.
Have you ever felt out of your league? Maybe in an earthly sense you can relate. Perhaps you’ve been hired for a job only to realize your coworkers all held PhD’s in their area of expertise. Maybe you signed up for a class only to discover that it was way over your head. We can probably all think of examples like this, but I would submit to you that we are all our of our league when it comes to the spiritual battle waging in the world today. The captain of that team, the devil, is cunning and mean. He will stop at nothing to win. He cheats, lies, and uses whatever other tactics he can to pull out the victory. And truly, we’re no match for him at all. We’re way out of out league. He’s been doing this for 6000 years, you see, and he’s gotten really good at it. Do you ever consider society around you and feel isolated? Do you feel like you’re the only one who clings to any semblance of traditional morals? You aren’t, of course, but the devil would have you believe that. He wants you to feel out of touch with modern society so he can convince you that the things going on out there aren’t really so bad. Take a stand against abortion? Stand up for marriage between a man and a woman? Dare to make the claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven? You’re judgmental and closed minded, he would have you believe. We see judges making rulings that infringe on our traditional beliefs and religious freedoms and the devil cunningly convinces us to remain silent. It’s no big deal, he whispers. It’s not affecting you personally right now, so why bother? There’s no doubt about it, in the spiritual war raging in this world, we are way out of our league, and the consequences are far more serious than a baseball win or loss. We’re talking eternal consequences.
Take heart, dear one, because there’s a reason the devil fights so hard. He knows something he tries to hide. He has already lost the game. He has already been defeated. That happened 2000 years ago when the most unlikely hero of all stepped into this world of sin and death. Jesus, true God, left the majesty and glory that is rightfully His and stepped into the world as one of us. He lived the perfect life that we could never live. He stood up to the devil and prevailed. The devil’s underhanded tactics didn’t work on Jesus. But when Jesus hung bruised and bleeding on that cross, the picture of humiliation and defeat, it looked as though the devil had won. He rejoiced in his lair as Jesus’ dead body was placed in the cold tomb. He had won! Or had he? Three days later, Jesus rose victorious from that tomb. Even death could not hold Him. The devil, despite his very best efforts, had lost. That’s why he tries so hard now. He’s still stinging from his loss, and he does all he can to pull us down with him now. Don’t let him fool you- you’re on the winning team.
In the meantime, what can we do? On our own, it’s true, we are no match for the devil and this world. Yes, Jesus has already won the victory for us, but we live in the “now and not yet.” We are still here in this world of sin, and although Jesus has earned salvation for us, we have not yet reached heaven. We still live in the here and now. So now what? Take a lesson from my son’s team. Although they consistently lost, they pulled together as a team. They encouraged each other. We need to do the same as Christians on this earth. Pull together and find strength by meeting with fellow Christians. Encourage others in their walks in life. Don’t give up or walk off the field. Remember the words of Hebrews 10:24-25. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” All true Christians are part of the invisible Church, with members from all times and all places. Moses, David, Peter, John, Paul- they’re all on our team. Their words in Scripture still encourage us today. And someday we will gather with them and all other Christians who ever lived in the most glorious victory party ever- heaven. But in the meantime, don’t despair. Invite others to join our team. Encourage your teammates. And let’s get out there in this world and play some ball.