“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
— Ephesians 5:15-16
In 1992, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes formed a lacrosse team to compete in the Vail Shootout, the largest summer lacrosse tournament. I was a part of that team, and it amazed me to see how God used a last-second, thrown-together team to make a huge impact on the lacrosse community.
At that time, the lacrosse culture was not open to a strong Christian influence. As a result of our tournament appearance, we were nicknamed the “God Squad.” God granted us success that summer, and we advanced to the championship game by knocking off three powerful teams. Even though we lost a close game in the championship, God used our ragtag team to begin a great work in the lacrosse world. The impact of our team is still felt today—almost 30 years later! (You can watch our story, Miracle in the Mountains, here.)
During the tournament, it was interesting to hear the chatter about our team. It was mostly centered on things our team chose not to do: Those guys don’t drink. They don’t party. They don’t curse. They don’t … don’t … don’t. We were going against the grain, and it was noticeable. However, I wish people would have talked about what we stood for, rather than what we were against. It is important to take a stand, but as believers, let’s be known for what we DO and not just what we DON’T DO.
Be known for what you stand for.
The world is very aware of what followers of Christ are AGAINST, but I’m not sure they understand what we stand FOR. Walking and acting with God’s wisdom will show others how to know and experience what we are for. We will accentuate things like love, joy, peace, justice, patience, mercy, grace and compassion rather than dwell on what we are against (like certain political leaders, lifestyles, wardrobes, music and media). I know what some of you are thinking: “But shouldn’t we be against some of those things?” Yes, we need to take a stand against things that break God’s heart. Yes, we need to be in this world, but not of this world. We should never be soft on sin, oppression or injustice. But the real question is, “What do people know you as more: Someone FOR the things of God or someone AGAINST things of the world?”
Unfortunately, these days there is a divide-and-conquer mentality that forces people to pick sides, which creates a toxic environment. It has become harder and harder to take the high road and focus on positive things instead of dwelling on negative things. When we focus on what we are AGAINST, we immediately put ourselves on the other side of the table from others who think differently. However, when we focus on what we are FOR, we can better walk in unity and harmony.
There is strength in unity and weakness in division.
God has called us to have a distinct walk—a walk with purpose and significance. Ask God to give you opportunities that extend His grace and compassion. Ask for ways to bring hope and healing. Seek out opportunities to encourage and build up others. Look for ways to serve with humility. This is how to become known for what you stand for and do.
“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone-deep, non-hypocritical integrity.”
— Charles Swindoll
Complaining and criticizing about the world’s pitfalls makes us sound like everybody else. As Christians, we need to be different. We need to know what to stand for and how to take that stand with wisdom, discernment and understanding. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:15-16 how we should walk: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
When I read these verses, I think of how God has positioned FCA since 1954 to be a light in the world of sport and to be known for things that please the heart of God. We want coaches and athletes to live carefully—walking wisely and making the most of every opportunity. We want staff, donors and volunteers to commit to living out the FCA Values of Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence. When this happens, we will stand together in unity for the things of God, maximize our opportunities and walk in such a way that others are drawn to Jesus.
“Father, the world is full of division, discouragement and doubt. The days are evil, so help me stand strong and stand for what You love. Pour out Your wisdom and understanding so I can walk carefully and make the most of every opportunity. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.”