By Mollie Emerson

Following Jesus Is Not a Spectator Sport

I love sports, especially basketball and tennis. Recently, Wimbledon and the NBA draft has whet my appetite for these sports and inspired me to pick up a ball again.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm as a spectator did not translate to skills on the court. Somehow, I had believed the silly notion that by watching these professionals, I would become a talented player as well.The truth is that only by actually playing the game could I ever hope to get any better.

Jesus Requires Participation

Like sports, following Jesus isn’t something you get better at by just being a spectator. It requires participation. Participation is not a new idea, and it’s even one of our greatest skills. We love to participate. Reality TV has skyrocketed into success because it allows people the chance to participate in their favorite shows. Social media lets us participate in each other’s lives. We are a generation of participation.  

Why doesn’t this passion for participation carry over into our interaction with the gospel? Following Jesus is not meant to be spectator sport. When Jesus called the disciples, he told them to follow him, because they couldn’t participate in Jesus’ ministry by staying home and hearing what was going on. The same notion applies to us. The Gospel is not something to be passively absorbed, but rather something that demands action.

Trade Your TV for Running Shoes

Paul uses the metaphor of running a race quite a few times in the bible. Take note that he doesn’t ever say we should be watching the race, but that we are constantly running. Our running requires endurance, and it’s not always easy. However, Paul reminds us there is a prize to be obtained at the end. He tells us to run towards Jesus, never taking our eyes off him, because he ran the race first as the author and perfector of our faith.

Now it is our turn to participate. Jesus wants us to get up and run with him. 

What does participating in this run with Jesus look like exactly? Participation might mean that instead of attending church, you start serving the church. Maybe it means praying for your friend you know is struggling. It could mean going to Urbana 12 or on a mission trip. Participation is as simple as hearing Jesus’ words and then putting them into practice.

 Every day we are going to face broken situations that are desperate for light to shine. Jesus said that we are the light of the world. Are we going to chose to sit back as spectators or jump in the game and let our lights shine?

Mollie Emerson is a junior InterVarsity student at Weber State University in Utah, studying mathematics and Spanish. She likes reading, writing, coffee, and watching The Office.

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Hello Mollie! Great post. While reading this I could hear you speaking it to the students at WSU!! I love the energy and the call to be active in your faith. I appreciate your heart and willingness to share. It has affirmed in me the need to continue running the race. We can't stop pursuing Jesus. God is God is using you to mold and challenge others to stop calling the shots from the couch, but to come along side and live life! Keep writing! -Cody Hockin

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