There is a phenomenon within the human race that has intrigued me for as long as I can remember, one that is as old as man himself, our desire to lift up others, to be as others are, to elevate them above our own selves, to emulate their actions, deeds and way of life, and when that is not a possibility because of either physical or other limitations, we live vicariously through them. I believe this is a common occurrence within nearly every person alive, and it may not be because we see within ourselves the inability to do what these individuals do, or even the desire to pursue in life the same course that they themselves have set for themselves, but in many cases it is a need to feel as if we have worth outside of ourselves.
Think of the hundreds of millions of people that diligently follow certain sporting venues, they rejoice when “their” team wins, yet experience a sense of loss when the final score is in favor of the opponent. These individuals had absolutely nothing to do with the outcome, they have not spent countless hours preparing to engage in the contest, have not dedicated a large part of their lives to the chosen sport they enjoy watching so much, they are merely spectators, and as such have nothing to offer whatsoever to those on the field, save for their shouting, yelling, banners and apparel that shows their faithfulness to those they have decided to associate themselves with.
To know the totality of a thing, you must understand the inverse of that thing, so the question arises, do the participants on the playing field need the accolades and encouragement of those in the stands, are their constant uplifting chants and shouts of encouragement necessary for them to win the contest at hand, do they increase their desire to participate in it. Pick any sporting event you choose to, and think on that game being played with no one in the stands, would those on the playing field engage at the task at hand with as much fervor and anticipation of winning without all the thousands in the stands yelling encouragement towards them. Are you a necessary part of the competition, or would they do just fine without you, do you need others to encourage you as you do the work that the Lord has set before you?
There is a fixed thought within every human being of other’s thoughts towards them, almost a need to be needed, a strong urge to seek out others to show us that we have value and worth, someone to tell us that we matter. Whether it be the small child desiring their parents to recognize an achievement they have received at school, or a professional athlete that takes great pleasure in the roar of the crowd when they have made a play that moves their team closer to the desired goal of winning the contest, we all want, and dare I say, need recognition. Without it, many can find no purpose for their lives, they see no value in their personal accomplishments, and so they seek out to live vicariously through the lives of others. To be as they are would mean that those who admire them will also admire us, to be part of “the team” is to be recognized as one with value, to be accepted, to have a reason for life and the continuance of it.
You have heard me say in previous letters to you that I do not care what others think about me, it is what God thinks of me that gives my life reason and direction, that I do not on a serious level follow any sporting venue, for in their accomplishments I have not participated in any way, that I do not seek the praise of men, but the things of God, (John 12:43) that although I do not fully comprehend nor can I completely submit to the verse that says that it is Christ who lives through me, (Gal. 2:20) I do understand that it is only through faith that this life can be lived. In my hearts of hearts, as much as I can, I have devoted my life to His service, and have desired to live vicariously through Christ, to emulate Him and Him only, to be a part of only one team, His team, and to cheer that team on and encourage them in whatever way possible.
The problem is, I seem to be having difficulty finding the that team, they don’t seem to be on the field very much anymore, I have been having trouble even locating them on the practice field. When I meet them individually on the street, they don’t seem to have their playbook with them, and many of them don’t even seem to be able to recall the plays that are necessary for them to compete in the battle. They do not have their uniform, their armor on, (Eph. 6:11) though they are able to tell me that they are on the team, the smallest question about the efforts that they are adhering to are most generally met with remarks of being too busy, or that I am inferring that they are not prepared to enter the arena, when many of them do not even know where the venue is being held.
Memorization of the playbook, the Bible, is foreign to them, much less the application of its scenarios and the proper tactics for accomplishing them. Those few who still attend the practice sessions, Sunday morning worship, have for the most part forgotten that this part of their lives is to be carried throughout the week, and so will let others fulfill that task for them, and thereby live vicariously through their achievements that the Lord has led these few individuals to. During the week they will envision that they also have been useful to the Kingdom of God but can show no visible results of these imagined endeavors. The playbook lays dusty by the front door, or in the back seat of the car, the verses and words heard last weekend are forgotten within a day or two, are left to be applied by those that they will eventually will wish they could have been, those they knew all along they should have been.
These are no words that I can use to describe the sadness I feel for these people, these individuals who are well aware of what is required of them by our Lord, even commanded, yet they have of their own free will left those tasks up to others in the faith. They are satisfied to listen, but do not want to be heard for fear of being incorrect, they have not studied to show themselves approved, (2nd Tim. 2:15) and have desired to continually remain in the back pews, comfortable in letting others serve, allowing others within the fellowship of believers stand in the gap, seek for the higher things of God, while they remain comfortable in the milk of the word, where it is safer to watch and cheer on than to become a part of the team.
This is the main reason I believe that many are content to shout and cheer, while others accomplish the tasks at hand, the fear of failure, the desire to not be seen is greater than the desire to possibly be injured, to be ridiculed, ostracized, or worse, by others who have also desired to stay in the stands, circumstances are somewhat controllable if you remain with the spectators. The majority of the crowd is there, and there is relative safety in the audience, to stand out from it could bring consequences that many are not prepared to receive, either for themselves or for their Lord.
There is a very interesting point here, and that is that God is aware of all this, He looks into the sheepfold, as it were, and can easily discern those that desire to come out and do a little more, those that are seeking to serve above and beyond what those that are in the stands desire to do. He calls no one out, or very rarely does, that would rather stay in the pen, in the background, in the furthest pews back from the front. It is quite easy for our Savior to see those that in their heart want to please Him, for they are always looking at Him. They are not milling around with the crowd simply content to watch the game, they want to be in the game, they have been studying the playbook diligently, and they ask only to be used for His glory, never for their own accolades, rarely even thinking about the team, though always in great love when they do, their one desire is to be pleasing to their Lord, and they have learned to do that they must be in obedient service to Him, at all times, no matter the consequences or circumstances.
But those who desire to stay in the enclosure are as loved as those who desire to come out, the difference is those that are called out are willing to come out, they never need to be coerced, never have a need for others to recognize their accomplishments, never seek anything but His will for His glory.
You can stay in the stands and feel useful, or you can come down onto the field and be useful, the choice is yours.