This weekend I start my side career as a lacrosse official. Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States. Once viewed a merely an activity of elite Northeastern colleges, this year lacrosse will be a sanctioned sport in the state of Illinois, played by dozen of high schools in our area.
So what qualifies me to be an official for a game I've never played? That was my question and my fear as I sat through the mandated 8 hour clinic last month. I never played, and shoot - I've never watched a game! I honestly don't even understand the most elementary concepts. I voiced this concern to our instructor as we each introduced ourselves to the clinic.
His response was insightful:
The best officials are people who never played and didn't grow up around the game. In fact the less you think you know the better. Those who know they know nothing will approach the game with the seriousness it deserves, immerse themselves in the rule book, and seek out help in the face of even the smallest confusion. In three years they will be our top officials. The hardest officials to train are those who think they know the game, grew up around the game, and simply lean on childhood knowledge. They think they know everything, when in fact they know the least.
Truthfully, I've seen this in officiating, and I've seen this in the church. Those new to faith are often the fastest moving towards progress. They can't consume the truth of God fast enough. They have a hunger to learn and willingness to seek wisdom from others who they quickly acknowledge are further along. When habits like inviting, tithing and mission are taught, they sink in deeply. Yet, the inverse is often also true. Trust me, I'm a life-long church person, and I know this is true. Those of us who think we know the truth of God, the story of the Gospel, and the mission of the church will often allow our inherited knowledge from being dragged to Sunday School by grandma substitute for a vital, Spirit-led, submissive relationship with our God of power and grace.
My hope for you in 2016, whether you've been in church for three weeks or for your entire life, is that you would seek God with a renewed passion. I pray that God will light a holy fire within you to seek Him in all things. My desire for you is that habits of consistent worship, giving sacrificially, and inviting others to come and see would define your faith. I know how easy it is for us who've been in church for a while to think we "already know" the faith. Let us break the mold in this together. Together we will become a church that shares Jesus in an irresistible way with a lost and hurting community in need of the Gospel and the meaning-rich, abundant life only Jesus offers.