With all the excitement that surrounds major-league sports, I’m reminded of the comic description of a football game that quips it is “30,000 people in desperate need of exercise watching 22 people in desperate need of rest!” It’s obviously a humorous shot at vicarious emotional participation of the fans that seems to put them “in the game” when really they have not actually done anything to truly affect the outcome. Another phrase is “armchair quarterback” which refers to the second-guessing of the on-field leadership capabilities of the coaches and players, usually after the fact, implying an expertise that appears to come from extensive experience. But the truth is that the critique given is frequently just a re-stating of what another pundit has already said, or a groundless assessment that would not really be successful in actual application. In other words, we tend to count an emotional connection to an activity as if we were really involved in a hands-on experience, making us experts in giving advice on subjects from parenting to politics – without any real participation in the process.
The idea of fellowship in the body of Christ many times suffers from the same weakness or tendency. We freely give and offer advice to each other as to how life should be lived or how the church should function, without being willing to actually “get our hands dirty” by entering into real relationship with each other in order to do the ongoing work of the Kingdom. Actual participation in fellowship is personally demanding and often emotionally tiring, but it is the only way to authentically touch lives and communicate the “truth” of the gospel. Learning to share life as followers of Jesus is a challenge and opens our hearts to really love one another and, consequently, the people around us!
How exciting to be His people,
Pastor David Vanderpool