Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Final Four and The Christian Life

2010 was one of the best "March Madness's" ever! For those of you who don't follow college hoops, the NCAA Tourny this year was filled with upsets and underdogs...and little Butler (David) almost defeated Big Duke (Goliath)...a last second shot from half-court almost went in to give Butler the victory...but it was not to be... HOWEVER, the defeat was definitely NOT due to lack of hustle on Butler's part.

I have played and coached basketball for most of my life...some games you win and some games you lose. But nothing ticks a coach off more than his/her team being "out-hustled." There's just no excuse for lack of effort; anything less than all-out effort is unacceptable! It's no less true in the Christian life.

Sure, the Christian life is by grace from start to finish. Of course the unconditional love and favor of God is our motivation...but grace is also transforming power. Grace is what enables us and empowers us to show hustle! An understanding and apprehension of grace that doesn't lead to "hustle" is very immature.

It kills me when I see the world "out-hustling" the Church...and sometimes because of a MIS-understanding and erroneous application of grace!

Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) leads to walking in good works, hustling in deeds of mercy and love, that God has actually prepared in advance for us to do!

Paul tells us in Titus 2:11-3:8 that grace trains us to hustle in our battle with ungodliness and trains us to hustle in our aim for godliness!

God, as the Ultimate Coach, even calls us to hustle to add all kinds of effort to our faith in grace: 2 Peter 1:3-11.

I saw a piece on the TODAY Show this morning about the founder of TOMS shoes. A young entrepreneur came up with the idea of giving away one pair of shoes for every pair he sold. The original name of the shoes was to be TOMORROWS, but it wouldn't fit on the back of the shoe! For any pair of shoes TOMS sells today, the promise is that a pair of shoes will be given to people, especially children, unable to live a normal life because they lack shoes. There are children around the world, for example, that can't go to school unless they wear shoes; they were shoeless, but now TOMS has delivered shoes and children are going to school!

That is hustle! Church...where's our hustle?!

How could the "world" possibly EVER out-hustle the Church for great ideas on how to help the poor, shoe the shoeless, feed the hungry, show mercy to the sick? (By the way, I'm not saying the founder of TOMS is not a Christ-follower...fact is I know nothing about his faith or lack thereof). But there is no question that there are people who DO, in fact, often out-hustle the Church in carrying out Kingdom principles even though faith in Christ is lacking in their personal lives.

So often it seems the Church is just a step slower than the world in creating ways to make a sustained difference for life on this planet...and sometimes it's all because the Church uses grace as excuse for poor effort. Don't get me wrong...this isn't a jealousy thing...I am thrilled when anyone of any creed makes a positive difference in the world.

On the one hand, unbelievers are still "Image-bearers" of God, so we ought not to be surprised that even non-Christians show hustle and make a difference in the world. On the other hand, God may sometimes "plant" difference-making ideas in unbeliever's minds to challenge the Church...

Are we getting out-hustled?

How can YOU make a difference in the world today?

What's the first choice that has to be made for it to happen? Do it!


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