OK, I have to admit that I am a huge NFL fan. I watched the whole first round of the annual player selection meeting (or draft) on Thursday night to see who my Pittsburgh Steelers would select. I am not the only one fascinated by this annual ritual. It gets 2 nights of prime time TV on two stations (ESPN and NFL Network). We are fascinated by this choosing of the most gifted football players on earth. I started to think, though, about how the draft illustrates some important truths about our lives as Christians from I Corinthians 12.

We Are Gifted

Players who are drafted are all gifted athletes. My son kept asking me, “is that guy good?” I said (several times), “yes, if they get drafted they are  very good players.” Some will not become great NFL players for a variety of reasons, but they are all gifted.

As Christians we are all gifted, too:  “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” I Corinthians 12:7 (NLT). We cannot complain that we are not able to serve God and His body, the church. The Holy Spirit gifts all believers just for this purpose. There are no believers without a spiritual gift. These gifts are not for our glory, but for the express purpose of helping each other. However, we still must choose to use the Spirit’s gifts and not stay on the sidelines.

We Are Valued

In the draft there is so much talk about the value of a player. Player A is a “elite, first rounder.” Player B has “first round talent,” but character issues will knock him down a round or two. The last player selected is lovingly called Mr. Irrelevant. Then all the fans and pundits come out and grade the drafts based on their opinions of player value.

We would never do that in the church, right? We would never place different values on folks because of our view of their giftedness? The Corinthians did. They wanted the showier gifts, like tongues. In fact, the best translation (though not followed by most translators) of I Corinthians 12:31 is “But you are desiring the showier gifts. However, I show you a more excellent way.” (Then Paul launches into chapter 13 about love being that better way.) 12:31 isn’t a command to seek the greater gifts, but an indicative of what they are doing. They want the prestige of the more noticeable gifts.

Paul’s metaphor of the body dispels the notion of greater or lesser value. All gifts (thus, all believers) are needed or the body cannot function properly. It is our duty to use our gift, not complain that we don’t have some other gift. The Spirit includes all believers into the body (v 13), because He loves all of us equally. We have the highest value, given by God. Don’t let anyone put you down; you are His wonderful creation!

We Are Chosen

There is so much excitement and joy when players are chosen by an NFL team. Their families, coaches, and friends are hugging, congratulating everyone, and bouncing with visible joy. Think about how it must feel: one of the most elite teams in the world decided they want you to play for them. And they are going to pay you to do it.  It would be exciting! Why are we less enthusiastic about being chosen by the King of the Universe to serve on His team, for His kingdom? I Corinthians 12:18: “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” He gives us our unique talents and then chooses us for special tasks that only we can do (by His power). We are specially desired and selected. We are chosen — like #1 draft picks.

We Are Required to Serve

Once selected, a player cannot just choose another team. Each is required to show up and play for the team that chooses him (or sit out the season) as soon as the contract is worked out and signed. Christians are also required to serve. We have chosen a new master (or been chosen by one — both senses are true). We aren’t playing to win a Super Bowl, but something much greater. Paul explains in Ephesians 4 after listing some of the gifts that our purpose is:

“to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” Eph 4:12b-13 (HCSB)

 So, we can quit once everyone is as fully mature in faith as Christ. Until then, we have a job to do. Let’s rejoice that the King has gifted us, loved us, chosen us, and put us into the game! How are you using His gifts today?

(If you are interested in any of my sports writing, especially about the Pittsburgh Steelers, read here)