Getting on God’s Team

Many of us have experienced the anxiety of choosing teams on the playground. Unless you are the star athlete, it is an agonizing process. As we enter this year’s all-church focus, Game On!, it is important to know that we don’t have to feel this anxiety before God. That might surprise you. Let us explain.

 

As you begin this devotional, you will be working through one of the most beloved books in the whole Bible – and the most beloved of the gospels. Gospel can be used in a couple of different, but related, ways. It literally means “good news.” One meaning is when it is attached to Jesus’ story by one of His authorized biographers – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We are reading the “good news” of Jesus’ arrival, death, and resurrection from John’s perspective.

 

Gospel also refers to the “good news” in a broader sense. Specifically, it is what God has done for us in Jesus to bring us from a state of separation from Him to becoming His daughters and sons – His choosing us to be on His team. Whether they mention the name of Jesus or His actions, all of the Bible is part of this gospel story. So, what is this “good news” and how do we respond to it? 

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Good news is often best contrasted with bad news. So let’s hit the bad news first. We are born separated from God. Our sin separates us from Him. Romans 3:23 makes this painfully clear: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The cost of this sin is separation from God. Again Romans 6:23 is helpful: For the wages of sin is death. Bad news, indeed. We are all part of a vast crowd separated from God, buried in our guilt, fear, and shame. But this isn’t the end of the story.

 

God sends His Son Jesus on a rescue mission to a rebellious humanity, light into the darkness: He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”(John 1:11-12). He is intent on taking people far from God, the Christ-less, and turning them into His children, becoming Christ-like. He wants to take people from the rebellious crowd and help them become fully functioning followers who thrive in relationship with Him. He wants to move us from shame to honor, from fear to freedom.

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There comes a point when we are no longer part of the uninterested masses. Rather, God has stirred a curiosity in our hearts. Jesus asks us, “What are you seeking?” (John 1:38) and we stop long enough to listen.

 

As we work through John’s gospel, it is going to lay out who this Jesus is. We think you’ll like Him. But it’s possible that you already know who He is; you’ve just been putting off building that relationship, that friendship, with Him. This is a big decision that will change your life. Because He isn’t just looking to save you for heaven someday, He wants to change your life today. He wants to take you from that state of curiosity to actually becoming convinced that He is the Son of God who died for you and rose again. Beyond that, He wants you committed to Him and His purposes, which means being commissioned to serve others. He wants to set you free from guilt, fear, and shame and commission you to set others free in Him as well. What an amazing gift! 


This is a big decision.

 

We need to be clear; all of that commitment and commissioning is not something we do to earn God’s favor. This salvation is by grace through faith alone. One of the most famous passages in all of the Bible is John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

Salvation is not a matter of earning something; it is a matter of trusting Jesus alone for our salvation and to change our lives for our good and His glory. When we do, He infuses our life with hope, power, purpose, and honor. If you would like to take that step of following Jesus, pray this prayer – if you really mean it: 

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Lord Jesus, I know I have this mountain of moral debt. I am a sinner, and I know that this sin stops me from living the way you intended for me to live my life. I recognize this sin holds me back from relating to You, it burdens me with shame, and keeps me shackled in fear. I know I need a Savior, and I believe You, Jesus, paid the penalty for my sin to set me free from my fear, guilt, and shame. So I ask You to forgive my sin, and I accept You as my Lord and Savior. Thank you! Amen!

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If that prayer reflects the depths of your heart, welcome to God’s family, His team! Be sure to tell someone. I am confident you will jump into this study with a passion and a power unlike you’ve experienced other times you have opened the Bible.

 

For those who aren’t ready to make this commitment yet, we respect that. This is a big decision. We want to challenge you to keep reading. Part of the reason John’s version of Jesus’ story is written is to persuade you that there is nobody like Jesus: these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).

 

Whether you’re a longtime follower of Jesus, you just prayed this prayer for the first time, or you’re still investigating, God has something wonderful for you in this study. I hope you will jump into it with the energy of an elite athlete. Let’s get to it.

 

Game on!