By Dan DiFolco
co-Founder, Sport Officials Surrendered
I wanted to share something that moved me today that I couldn’t help but relate to what I believe God wants to do through the Sport Officials Surrendered community.
It was in an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, “This Cultural Moment”. Mark Sayers who pastors Red Church in Australia elaborates on an Illustration based off a point made by an past Anglican priest, Martin Thornton, from his book in 1949 (book was unnamed). This point that Mark was restating from Martin was the idea that there are three types of Christians, and he explained it using an analogy us officials should have no problem relating too. However, I would not do it justice if I attempted to explain it, so I encourage you to listen to it (The Portland Sessions: Part 6: 12:40-17:20 Here).
Essentially these are the 3 types of Christians who are all apart of the "game" God has going on:
1. Those Outside the Stadium (God wants them inside, but these are the un-reached, or those caught up in the world still)
2. Those in the Stands (Nominal/Cultural Christians. These are the bystanders, who know how to cheer when things are good and critique when things are bad)
3. Those Playing the Game (Remnant. These are those who are full steam ahead playing hard, sold out for their team. SURRENDERED)
What moved me was not only the deep inspirational idea of our calling and purpose to be apart of God’s “game,” but the correlation to those of us in the community of Sport Officials Surrendered. This job of the “remnant” or the players of the game, is to get the spectators out of the stands and into action.
This dual symbolism speaks to us about the actual recruitment of new officials we are responsible for, but more importantly sharing the life-changing message of the gospel. This is done by experiencing the love and testimony of Jesus through interaction with us. Spectators are watching how and what we do.
Again, the duality of this is so powerful as they critique and applaud the job we do. In refereeing or umpiring terms, this simply means when we miss a call, they think they can do better. Or if we get it right, they obviously would’ve, too. But the Bible also validates this entire idea of players or spectators and instructs us in how to successfully be apart of God’s “game”. This is done in Hebrews 12:1-2, which states:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
This illustration maybe hard for some to hear, as self-evaluation kicks in. Truth is, we all need this self-evaluation because this "Game" of God's is life vs death for some. Or in our profession this means failure to address the national drought and abuse referees/umpires face. We have an opportunity everyday to change the perception about the profession of refereeing/umpiring or the life of following Jesus.
So today I pray that you do just as Hebrews 12 instructs, remembering that we are the remnant and fully to be in God's "game." I also encourage you, in a posture of sincere love and urgency, pray for those both outside the stadium and in the stands. That the “good news” is a pronouncement that God has a desire, a yearning and need for them to be apart of His “game.”
Peace be with you all.
** I want to also add that the “game” occurs all around where you are. It is our belief at S.O.S, that our daily lives consist of "mini-games" that we sometimes overlook. We hope this helps change your daily perspective into missional and expectational living.**
*** It is not a coincidence the strong correlation this sport illustration has to the reality of our National drought of Sport Officials. This demands prayer and action by all of us who make up the body of S.O.S***