Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
The World Series has just wrapped up for another year — that epic battle between the teams of the National and American Baseball Leagues. If you will indulge a fan, I’d like to make some observations between this sports contest and our much more significant challenge to be victorious against “Team World.”
The battle, the ultimate competition between the two “leagues” is played out over a long season of ups and downs, followed by several playoff rounds, and finally the deciding game of the deciding series. There can be only one winner; there are no ties.
The battle between our flesh and our spirits is also fought over a long season. If we’re to progress, there must be more wins than losses, and some wins will be crucial. There are certain “teams” we must defeat or we’ll go down ourselves. Satan owns some of these teams — the situations he sends to discourage and intimidate us. Others are teams he coaches to play on our weaknesses. The crucial wins are the ones in which we “bounce back” after a defeat; when we recommit ourselves to God and refuse to give up the fight.
Whatever the nature of the opposing ream, we need a good defense. For that to happen we have to position ourselves properly — in line with God, paying attention to His signals, ready for whatever comes at us because we have confidence in our leadership. It will be important to know the tendencies of the opposition and prepare accordingly. How does the enemy usually attack us? When we’re tired, frustrated, angry, depressed? Who or what does he often use to distract us, to move us out of position? How does he try to get under our radar, convince us we don’t have to take him into account?
When it’s our turn to step up to the plate, we need to keep our eyes on the ball in order to score against our opponent. Every player needs to stay alert, ready for the unexpected. We must be able to judge when to run and when to hold our ground. When we strike out, we’ll be wise to assess what we could have done differently and correct it, and the best one to help us with that will be our Coach.
From the very start, it’s important to be a team player. Those who are only out to improve their own stats don’t last long. Each team member has to be prepared to sacrifice themselves at the appropriate time so others can advance to the next base. Even when an at-bat doesn’t produce a hit, a sacrifice bunt or long fly ball can still be productive. There are times when we’ll be on the bench, maybe on a much-needed rest day, and we’ll still be called into action, We have to be ready to step up in a pinch, either to bat or to run for another player. A successful team often identifies itself as a family, and we too are part of a faith family. When one of us advances, we all benefit. Those who make it “all about me” miss the point — and usually the playoffs.
When we’re running, we have to be careful to stay in the base paths and touch all the bases, or our run won’t matter. Going outside of God’s will, no matter how good our intentions, won’t produce the right result. We can’t be so enthused about what we’re doing that we veer off target and miss crucial steps. We’ll be wise to keep touching base with God as we make our way to home plate.
Unless we’re prepared to be tossed from the game, we learn not to argue balls and strikes with the umpire at home plate. The strike zone is outside our control, and no matter what we may think, it’s best to accept the Umpire’s call. We may think we’d do a much better job, but He’s the one in charge.
As we step up to the plate of each new day, let’s remember that the world we’re up against isn’t the earth that God created, but the culture and values Satan has encouraged mankind to adopt for themselves. We’ve been charged with caring for God’s creation, and not to accept a culture nourished by Satan, our opposition. It’s not a World Series game, but a world serious mindset.
Sometimes we’ll defeat Team World and sometimes they’ll score a lot of runs against us. But in the final test, the deciding game, our victory has already been recorded.
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.