THE CHURCH, GOD’S TEAM

I am the Light of the World. (John 9:5, ASV )

You are the Light of the World.(Mt. 5:14, ASV)

We’re Gonna Let It Shine. Who is the light? Is it Jesus or me?  Well, neither.  Jesus shined brightly for His Father while on earth, but now He sits in heaven praying for us. He shines today by His Spirit through His body, the church. We are His proxy on earth.

I am not the light and neither are you. But together we can be. When we love another, as he commanded, we focus his great light. Unity is effective and makes a powerful witness to the world, which is why Jesus fervently repeated his prayer three times (1)…that all of them may be one, Father…that the world may believe… (2) that they may be one as we are one… (3) that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know you sent me. (John 17:21-23 NIV)  

When I was a child I sang like a child, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” But when I became a man, I changed my tune. My little light can put out a little darkness, but It’s too big job for the world; it requires a team. I still sing that tune,  but the second time around I sing, “This great Light of ours, We’re gonna let it shine”.

Some teach that believers are sheep because we are stupid and helpless, but that’s not fair to the sheep. They are flock animals and need one another and a shepherd. Unlike goats, who are on their own. sheep can be productive when they’re together.  How do wolves attack a flock? They scatter them. A shepherd will tell you sheep need one another as much as they need a shepherd. The good shepherd keeps them together

Teams Need Leadership.  In place of shepherd or pastor, let’s use leader or coach. The church has always thrived when it has had good leaders, ones who know how to make disciples, equip them (train them for ministry), build up the body, and develop koinonia or community.  Ezekiel rebukes the shepherds of Israel, because they did not give good leadership and  ”So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. (Ezek. 34.5 NLT)

Commenting on his experience at his church, one wag said, “We’re being equipped all right, to support and assist the pastor, not for any ministry.” A good leader recognizes spiritual gifts in his flock and encourages them in their unique purpose and calling.

Great Teams Accomplish Great Things. We glorify the individual whether in sports or in the church, but the greatest things are achieved not by individuals, but by teams. Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon was a giant step for mankind because talented specialists combined their gifts in a superb display of united teamwork. No individual could ever have done it.

Collective Intelligence.  John Maxwell, a Christian consultant to business writes, ”Well-coached teams can accomplish far more than gifted individuals. However, in our culture where we idolize individuals in entertainment and sports, it’s not easy bringing individuals together as a team.” In a recent broadcast, NPR interviewed scientists who were developing games to make brains work better. One remarked that the best scores were not made by really smart individuals, but by really well coached teams. He called it collective intelligence.

Bill Bradley, who attended Princeton at the time I did, was a U.S. senator and star basketball in college and the pro’s.  He kicked off an NCAA final once by saying, “The best collegiate players have not made it to these finals. What we see tonight are the best teams coached by the best coaches.” He should know. He played on the world champion NY Knicks, not known for its superstars, but considered one of the finest examples of great team work in the history of athletics.

The 6th man on that team was Phil Jackson. He took “the team is everything:” formula and turned Michael Jordan from a superstar into a world champion. Which does Jordan cherish more—his individual stats or those six world championship rings which he won with Scotty Pippin, John Paxton and other fine team mates?

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