The field is wide open, boundary lines crisscross the green, and light floods the stadium. There a breathless moment while the flag is hoisted into the blue, and the majestic notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ring and then fade. Suddenly, with a tumultuous roar from the stands, two teams bouncing with energy bound on to the field.
Their jerseys gleam bright in the glaring lights. Jerseys red and jerseys white line up facing each other; stern faces sneer their plans for victory. “There will be blood tonight.” The whistle screeches, the kickoff sails into the air, and the game begins! Ten yards forward and 10 yards back.
The referee’s whistle screams, and his flag shoots into the air – but the game goes on. Nobody stops. He blows again. What is going on? He runs into the melee of players. He is thrown down and would be trampled if the other referee does not drag him from the field. Some fans stand and scream obscenities at the breach of protocol.
Some sit back to enjoy the game, which is not like any game they have ever seen, while others limp from the stadium bewildered at the blatant show of disrespect. It could get ugly, and they do not want to be a part of it. They will go home and watch the commentary on TV to find out what someone else will do to correct the situation.
As predicted, it does get ugly. Casualties collapse right and left. The announcers give a play-by-play, “The red team has lost two key players. The white team is down.” Suddenly, people from the stand flood the field, grabbing jerseys from the fallen players.
The game will go on. There are no rules. As the red team gains momentum, many white team players shed their jerseys and trade them for red. Sometimes a red team player carries the ball to the white goal line, and sometimes a white team member carries the ball to the red goal line.
The pandemonium increases. Who will win? The lights snap off over the field, but the game goes on. The announcers run on to the field with flashlights to watch and report. Some will report the red team is winning, and more white jerseys will be shed. Some will say the white team is predicted to win, and red jerseys will be traded for white. When will it end? Only the true coach knows. When He calls, His team will come to the bench, and the game will be over.
Of course, this game is absurd for football, but there is definitely a real game like this being played in our society today. It has been going on since the beginning of time. Satan is on one side, and Christ is on the other. It is a virtual war between good and evil. The field is marked on both sides. The center line is neutral.
There are some who think they can stand on the center line as a neutral entity. They don’t have to choose up sides and wear a jersey – but that is impossible. Christ said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
If we think we are being neutral, we are deceiving ourselves. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Reason tells us, “If you try to stand in the middle of the field when the game is going on, you will get run over by both teams.” We cannot be like the people of Elijah’s time who were trying to stay in the middle ground. They were trying to worship Baal and the Lord.
In other words they wanted to have one foot on one side of the line and one foot on the other. They wanted to be neutral or show allegiance to both teams. “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21)
If we can’t stand in the middle, we must move in one direction or the other. The first 10 yards on either side of the line, people make “pie crust promises,” as Mary Poppins calls them, “easily made, easily broken.” It is usually a time when we are swayed by the opinions of others. We care too much what other people think. Peer pressure is the deciding factor. We can put on the jersey of both teams or play on either side readily. Nobody really notices our decisions.
The next 10 yards on the side of Christ, we must make firmer promises. We must do some soul-searching. We become independent thinkers and take a long look at the world and say to ourselves, “I really want to try this Christian thing out. It works for my parents and some of my friends.” We start to pray, and the answers come, but we are still haphazard; we still can change jerseys at will.
The next 10 yards on the side of Satan, we start to rebel against the traditions we have been taught. We start to question and try out the offerings of the world. We start to get some flack from our parents and friends, but as long as we play on both sides, no one seems to notice that we are making more concrete decisions about what team we will play on.
In the following yards, we choose the jersey we will wear and who we will give our alliance to. On the side of Christ, we realize that He truly is the “way, the truth and the life.” We realize His promises really mean something. We know that He really did live and die on the cross for our sins and to give us salvation. We pray and get firm answers to our prayers.
Our faith becomes strong, and we want others to feel the joy we feel, so we play more earnestly on His team. We do not just wear the jersey; we are true to His team in whatever circumstance we may be in. We are not so much concerned about appearance as we are about matters of our heart. Ultimately, we become like Him, and we are a true asset to His eternal team.
On the other hand, the closer we get to Satan’s goal, we become more like his followers:
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
—2 Timothy 3:2-7
I don’t know about you, but I can see the world choosing up sides. It is coming to a point where you can’t be confused about the jerseys people wear. Satan’s team members are no longer trying to deceive by wearing the jersey of Christ part of the time.
They are willing to step out in public and shout to the world what team they are on. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with our Christian teammates, no matter what tag we wear or from which denomination we come. There are only two teams. We know who will win in the end. I want Christ to be my quarterback. I am with Joshua of the Bible:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
—Joshua 24:15 PD