For those of you who might have missed it, let me just say that last weekend's softball game was far from pretty. We faced a bigger and more experienced team, and they handled us pretty well. But everyone had fun, and nobody got hurt (well... except for Charlie, who seems to get hurt every week!).
Since we have more men than women playing, some of the men have to sit out each week. This was my week to provide moral support from the sidelines, as I was not in the lineup. So I spent a lot of time just watching. And I noticed some things that have bounced around in my mind ever since.
About half way through the first inning, I realized just how much our softball team is a picture of our church.
Everybody has a role to play, and no role is more or less important than the others. Whether pitching, catching, playing infield, or outfield, the team relies on every player being in their place and performing their role. Sounds like the church, doesn't it? "A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church." (1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT)
Everybody has good days and bad days. When somebody struggles, the rest of the team gathers around and tries to encourage them. "Come on, you can do it" is heard over and over, from players in the field, from fans on the sideline... in softball, it seems that everybody naturally understands how vital it is that we encourage one another. And the harder somebody struggles, the harder the encouragers shout their encouragement. "... let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25 NIV)
When a team member faltered, I smiled as another player stepped in and helped. I watched as a player who can hit but not run made it to first after a smash hit, and then was replaced by another runner who could take it the rest of the way home. It should be so in the church. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2 NIV)
We didn't win last week, but I was proud of our team. And each week, as we gel more and more together as a team, I think we'll be more and more a picture of what Jesus wants the church to be. After all, His prayer was "that they all may be one" (John 17:22). Is there a better picture of that one-ness, than when a group of men and women, young and old, players and cheerleaders, athlete and non-athlete, take the field together for a common goal.