“Stay focused!” “Get Ready!” “Be Alert!” These are all common phrases that are heard out of the mouths of athletes, coaches, and fans. At the risk of getting lulled to sleep in a big game or missing an assignment on a critical play, we need to remind ourselves and teammates to keep our eyes on the target.
This weekend, for example, the Nebraska Girl’s State Basketball Championships are being played and there are sure to be plenty of distractions for the athletes and coaches. They are playing on a much bigger stage and in front of a larger audience. The opposing teams are much better than those they faced during the regular season. The stakes have been raised and the pressure to win has increased. Every team is playing away from home and out of their comfort zone. For a team to win the state championship, they must “Stay focused!”, “Get Ready!, and “Be Alert!”.
Jesus made similar statements to his followers in reference to his Second Coming. In Matthew 24:42,44 Jesus said, “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming…Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Paul says the same thing in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” On the same theme, Peter writes, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are playing an away game in front of a hostile crowd. We constantly face distractions and obstacles in our walk with Christ. Temptation to sin lurks around every corner. We are engaged in a battle against an enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). What do the Scriptures tell us to do? Jesus commands us to “stay awake” and “be ready”! I love Hebrews 12: 1-2 which reminds us where our focus should be, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
As we play sports and the game of life, our eyes must constantly be on Jesus Christ. He will come back when we least expect Him!
Central-Northeast FCA Director