Play of the day…

play

So many of us are under-estimated in life! Have you ever felt that people just can’t see what you know is inside you?… or at least what you hope is there? I had this experience this week, someone I spend time with thinks I’m a drop kick. Now I know at times I act like a drop kick, but not to the degree that person thinks I am.

I remember as a young kid standing in line on the edge of the soccer field as two of my primary school mates picked the day’s lunch time soccer teams. Without fail, I was the last to be picked for soccer (not so with rugby, but soccer was a sad sad story for me).

I never understood the rules, in fact I couldn’t figure out why would soccer need rules. I mean how boring – no tackling, no pushing, no fending… may as well as play cards.

Even when I was on the field in the team playing no one would pass me the ball. So many times I remember thinking… ‘Man look at this, no one is in front of me, kick it to me! I’m completely open!’ I think I was so bad no one bothered to mark me.

If only they could have seen what I thought was in me – the ability to go the length of the field and score. If only they could see my hidden capacity, my hidden potential… But sadly, when the rare occasion came and I was given the chance to shine and make the play of the day… I never quite managed to kick that goal.

One time I was given the shot, the perfect opportunity, no one around me for a mile. The only person in front of me was the goalie. I lined it up… took an almighty swing at the ball… my foot connected… and it landed directly into the waiting arms of the goalie. He didn’t even have to move. It was, in effect, the perfect pass to the opposition.

I was so mad and frustrated I proceeded to run up to the goalie and attempted to kick the ball out of his hands. It wasn’t fair! Why should he be allowed to stand there and block my shot? Why should he be allowed to use his hands when I am not? Why did he have to ruin my chance of the play of the day?

Most of us might have only that small window of opportunity to show our potential. You might get a shot because your team is so far behind (or in front), that it doesn’t really matter, so the coach sends you out. Perhaps the coach is so mad at the team that he turns to you, and he might even call you by the wrong name and point or gesture for you to run on and give it a go. Therefore, you are getting your one brief chance to save the day.

Unfortunately in my childhood soccer career I never capitalised on my opportunities. I never really achieved the outcome I dreamed of.

But here is the thing… most of us have gone our whole Christian life not really living up to the potential inside of us. We’ve never been given the chance to step up and take that one shot. We have never even had the chance to take the risk.

Now I know some of you reading this have had an entire lifetime of ‘taking the shot’. Some of you are doing that right now, and to you people I am very thankful because you have taught me a vaulable lesson. Life is all about seizing those divine moments. You have taught me to take every opportunity because who knows if that next opportunity to step up will be the last one I get?

Wouldn’t it be horrible to be sitting in a pew on the sidelines and miss the calling from the great coach telling us to get in the game, and to take the shot regardless of how unlikely it might be!

Some of you might be also be thinking that you are seizing the opportunity… you are taking that shot, but you’re missing the mark. Well it is to you that I’m writing. I hear and feel your concern. Nothing is more frustrating than sensing God is calling you up to make some major play, but when the chance arises you are not kicking a goal but more like passing the ball to the opposition!

You know if Jesus is the greatest leader who ever lived, (which I am certain he is) then every single individual who enters into a relationship with God, has the leadership potential of Jesus inside of them. Every single person has the opportunity to lead her or his side in scoring!

Think about that for a moment. No matter who you are!

We are funny people – we like to do endless self-assessments to examine character, personality, gifts, energy levels, blah blah blah… and what nearly always ends up happening is we compare ourselves with others. We end up saying, ‘Well I can never be like them’. But what I want you to realise is that it doesn’t matter how you are crafted or what shape you are or what your personality is, what your strengths are, no matter what is the sum total of all the information you have about yourself, if Jesus Christ lives within you, you have leadership potential waiting to be unleashed within your personality, your spirit, your life.

Have a look at Matthew Chapter 5:13-16

13“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Remember the backdrop: Jesus is speaking to thousands of people, and amongst those thousands of people we find they really did not have a lot to do. They weren’t at work, when it was time to eat they did not have any food, so one can assume the crowd consisted of mainly the homeless, the unemployed, the outcast.

The first thing I want to draw your attention to is Jesus’ capacity for casting and creating vision.

How do I get that from this passage? Just bear with me for a minute or two.

According to Webster’s dictionary ‘vision’ is the ‘power of seeing’, the ability to ‘foresee and to perceive’.

The Old Testament tribe of ‘Issacar’ was a very small tribe, but it was recorded of them as being able to ‘understand the times and know what to do’.

They could perceive and they could forsee. It is one thing to be kind of a visionary who just casts a huge picture of what the future should be like, get people all rallied together and get them all on the same common course. I could name many Christian leaders just like that. But this is not really what Jesus does here.

He doesn’t really paint the big picture of the Kingdom of God here. He doesn’t paint the huge picture of the entirety or heaven or hell or whatever else you might think he would do. He doesn’t even paint the picture of what his kingdom, his personal influence will be. He looks at the multitude and instead of saying to them ‘this is what I can do if you will join me’, he looks at them and says ‘this is what you can do if you will trust me’.

I love this – Jesus goes beyond being a vision castor to a vision creator. He goes beyond just being a visionary to creating a vision environment. He looks at the multitude and says, ‘You are the light of the world’, ‘You are the salt of the earth’. Remember who he’s talking too. He is not talking to the cream of the crop, he is talking to those who are the under-estimated, the ones thrown into the game because everything else is hopeless or because they just make up the numbers.

No normal person would ever have looked at these people and said, ‘Oh yeah, these are the salt of the earth’, ‘Yeah these people are the light of the world’.

Let’s not forget that Jesus didn’t have a microphone in those days and he’s probably sitting and in a very conversational approach, they had to pass this conversation down from person to person, group to group (no microphones), and in my mind I could kind of see this happening. One turning to another, ‘You are the salt of the earth’, I can imagine and hear and see the scene.

Person after person passing on the information ‘You are the salt of the earth’. People turning to the next huge ”fragrant” fisherman – ugly, smelly, toothless, bearded – and saying, ‘You’re the salt of the earth’. By the time it gets right to the very back of the crowd, the message is probably ‘I think he said you assaulted someone on earth’.

Because that is not what they were expecting to hear. But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘Everyone else wants to throw you out, but I’m telling you there is something extraordinary in you. If you live up to your God-given potential, like salt, you will be the ones who preserve the values and beauty and essence of humanity’.

And he goes on, ‘You are the light of the world’, and says, look when you have a light you aren’t supposed to hide it under something, you’re supposed to set it up on the hill.

You know as well as I do that when you have the refuse of the world, the homeless, the hopeless, the troublemakers, the criminals, that you don’t want to go and highlight those people.

When we were in LA we did the usual open top bus tour. Actually it was a flat bed truck, the bus seats were just bolted on top! You feel like a real tourist, sitting up there on the back of the truck looking at everything (to make it worse I think we were the only ones on the truck).

Not at any stage did the driver (make that the recorded message) point out the homeless, the ghettos, the under-estimated. It pointed out the homes of the rich and famous, the recording studios, the hollywood sets and the like.

Jesus looked at these unloved and unvalued people and said, others may underestimate you, may never pick you, but I am telling you that there is God-given potential that should be on a hill! For all to see!

And if you would just shine you would bring light into an incredibly dark world.

What would happen if all of us in normal fashion stopped trying to pursue our dream, our visions, our goals and our lives, made our dominant vision gift ‘seeing greatness in other people’.

What would happen if every day we began looking at other people through the eyes of God and began to see their value? What if we began to look at the people around us who irritate us and drive us crazy, and saw them as ‘the salt of the earth’. That person is the light of love.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation surrounded by people, and when you walked away you thought less of yourself? These people are vision blood suckers. The moment you think you can, they remind you that you can’t! ‘Have you looked in the mirror? Do you know who you are?’

And so they have all the facts! Because all of us are flawed enough for anyone at look at us and say, ‘Are you kidding? You….. don’t you remember who you are?’

I think that’s why a lot of us struggle going back home to parents and family. Do you have an extended family who don’t like to let you change? They still see you the way you were. And you have worked so hard all year long to go on a diet and loose 5 kilos, you get your hair done, you just do everything you can to look younger and healthier, and you’re trying to change, and maybe it is real change.

You used to be selfish, but now you’re generous. You used to be proud but now there is a genuine humility in you. You used to be so many other things, but you know you have worked so hard to change, but you visit them and they just keep telling you who you were.

What’s so good about Jesus is that he not only exemplified the best things about humanity, but he also sees it in us, and he calls it out from within us!

Have you ever been around a group of people or an individual, that when you leave them you see yourself with greater potential than you ever did before?

We should be a people who, when we cross paths with others, they begin to see their life in a new way.

Look I am going to stop there, because I don’t think we need convincing. It’s plain and simple. It’s time we started being that visionary people Jesus called us to be. Not just people who say, ‘Come and join us, and see what we can do’. But, ‘Come and trust in God, and watch what He does with you’.

It is time we started to let go of all the things which hold us back as the people we used to be and let go of all that restrains us from reaching our potential.

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