Hockey – Up Close and Personal

Ed, my neighbor next door, hardly ever misses a hometown hockey game. Of course I ran into him at a hockey game the other night. “Are you in the right place?” he asked. “This place is filled with excitement and action. People don’t sleep here like they do at church. It will be too much drama for you to handle, especially if there are any fights.”

“That is okay.” I answered, “I know you’ll be praying for me.”

“I’m not praying for you here or anywhere,” Ed stated in no uncertain terms.

“That’s okay. I’ll pray for you,” I offered.

“Don’t you be praying for me,” Ed warned.

“Would it be too much excitement, action and drama if I prayed for you, Ed?” I asked.

“Hardly,” Ed answered, “Just don’t even think about it.”

Hockey is one of those up-close-and-personal, fast-paced sports. It certainly has lots of body contact and sometimes even the drama of some fighting. Every goal is either a thrill of victory or an agony of possible defeat. Break-a-ways, miraculous stops by a goalie, slick team passing, dogged penalty killing, and heart stopping overtime victory goals all color the sport of hockey for both the fans and players.

I have tried to tell Ed that being a Christian is like being in a hard-fought hockey game. The opposing team is coached by Satan, with players who are brawlers, hackers and bone breakers. They are out to not only win the game, but to destroy the opposing team. Thankfully, Jesus our coach is the best and gives us victory no matter what the score board says.

Ed responded that in hockey, the score better be in your favor, as fans get impatient with losers. They don’t want excuses – they want action and victory. The victory Jesus gives is spiritual, not earthly. Losing, in the earthly sense can be God’s way of winning. Jesus laid down his life as the Lamb of God on the cross to take away the sin of the world. His way of losing was not popular. His disciples fled when Jesus was arrested. Even Peter who followed him at a distance denied he knew Jesus three times.

There is a big difference between hockey players and their fans. The players are up close and personal with the opposing team. The players get boarded, bumped and bruised. They give of themselves with all the ability they can manage. Fans, on the other hand, like to share in the glory of a win without ever leaving their seats. They also never score a goal, race up and down the ice, handle a stick or sit in the penalty box. Is it better to play hockey or watch it?

Some Christians tend to act as if they can be just fans when it comes to God. They believe they do not have to play the game of faith as Jesus played it here on earth. However, you cannot have a hockey game without players who are willing to play. In the same way, you cannot be a Christian without being willing to live your faith. Hockey players are made complete by playing the game. Christians are made complete by putting their faith into action. The Bible says it this way, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

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Raymond Maher
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