The Raptors parade on Monday was incredible. I didn’t attend myself, but the reports were stunning. A two-hour parade was turned into an all-day celebration. The crowds were so thick it was difficult for the vehicles carrying the players to get through. Subway stations were temporarily shut down due to over-crowding. When the team finally made it to Nathan Phillips Square, the cheering of the crowd was deafening as the players made speeches alongside dignitaries including the Prime Minister and Premier.
I fear that people’s attitude toward Christianity can sometimes be a little bit like the Raptors victory parade. People can sit on the sidelines and cheer on the team and think they’re part of the game, when they’re not. There are no spectators in the Christian life. There is no all-star team to applaud. In fact, the Bible says that the less prominent service in the kingdom is often the most vital (1 Corinthians 12:22). And everyone’s needed on the court, not in the stands. Let me share some thoughts on serving that stand out in light of Monday’s parade.
1. Everyone makes the team.
The Raptors are specimens of athleticism. They have incredible talent and have been perfectly groomed for success under top coaches and elite mentors. The try-outs are gruelling and even those who make the team have to compete for playing time. Christianity is different than that. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” Every true believer has what it takes to serve. Each one has been equipped with divine help to bless others in service. Too often Christians disqualify themselves from ministry. They feel inadequate as they compare themselves with others. They give themselves a mental try-out in their minds and they never make the team. But we need to take God’s enablement seriously and believe in the gift He has given each one of us. Because of Him, we all have a vital part to play on the team.
2. Free agents don’t take the season off.
As soon as the Raptors clinched their NBA championship, people started talking about their superstar’s future. Kawhi Leonard’s free agency is the most anticipated event of the summer as teams vie for his attention and compete to sign him to a contract. Whether he plays for Toronto next season or not is still an unknown, but it’s certain that he’ll play. Free agents don’t take the season off.
Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” It’s saying that Christians can misunderstand their freedom. They can misuse their freedom as an excuse for selfishness. The opposite of that selfish misuse of freedom is loving service of others. Romans 12:11 teaches something similar when it says, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
3. You don’t make the all-star team because of your great skill.
The top players in the NBA are recognized because they have superior talent. They run faster, jump higher and shoot more consistently than anyone else. They train to be the best, but they’re also born with obvious physical advantage. Greatness in God’s eyes doesn’t come the same way. God doesn’t look with greater favour on those who possess superior talents. In fact, Jesus warned that, “many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31). He said that, “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). God looks with favour on those who serve quietly and faithfully out of love and gratitude for all that He’s done in their lives.
4. Toronto’s parade won’t compare with heaven’s.
Toronto’s parade was incredible. There were record numbers of people. I’m sure it felt rewarding to see the crowds and all the people clamouring for photos. But it doesn’t compare with the satisfaction that believers will experience in being rewarded by God. Imagine meeting the most important Being in the universe and realize that He had seen every act of service you had done. Jesus taught His followers to be faithful in the little things in order that they might one day hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:21) and He promised, “If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26). To be forgiven by God is incredible but imagine being honoured by God Himself. And when we receive God’s honour and recognition for the ways that we had served Him in this life, we’ll finally see life through God’s eyes and realize that the things we had celebrated were of little significance and the things of great importance in God’s eyes were often overlooked.
Are you using the gift God has given you or are you cheering from the stands? Are you serving Him as an expression of your love and gratitude? If you are, then know that God notices your sacrifice even when your skill might not be play-off worthy. And when He honours His servants, you’ll be glad you gave Him your best.
In awe of Him,