A referee is in the position of ultimate authority on the field of competition. A referee has two primary tasks: the first is to enforce the rules; the second is to enact the consequences for violation of the rules. A referee is vital for ensuring that the game is played in a way where chaos does not reign supreme. Everyone can utilize their gifts, talents, and abilities because order is maintained and managed.
But when it comes to the game of life, the Gospel empowers every Christian to go from referee to coach. The church is in need of more coaches . . . not referees. Coaches encourage, inspire, and motivate their players to perform at the peak of their God-given abilities. Coaches remind their players of what they have already learned as they are performing on the field of competition. And how do they do that? They get their players to focus on the Gospel and all Jesus has done on their behalf.
In a word, coaches get others to focus on the blessings of redemption:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.
God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
You were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers. (1 Peter 1:18)
Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)
Those who are truly in love with Jesus receive both the referee and the coach, knowing that God uses both to grow them up in Christ. To be sure, we all are in need of holy confrontations from time to time, like the one that David received from Nathan. This was one of God’s great graces in the life of His king. David was trapped in a season of sin, and his conscience was not bringing appropriate accusations against him. King David was clearly numb to his own sin and was snared by it. If you don’t have a Nathan in your life right now, pray that God will send you one!
But I am convinced that we all need more coaching in our lives than we do refereeing. We need to be continually reminded that we are freed from the curse of the law. We need to be continually reminded that we have the full rights of sons of the Most High God. We need to be continually reminded that we have been saved from an empty life and delivered into an abundant life in Christ. And we need to be continually reminded that Jesus poured His life out on the cross that we might be His very own.
Coaches provide reminders that stir the heart and strengthen the will to live a life that is pleasing to God . . . not because of what we hope to gain, but because of what we have already been given.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!