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The Best Defense

During my senior year in high school, I was the goalie for our soccer team.  I had tried to play football the two years earlier, got injured both years, and wasn’t all that good anyway, so some soccer friends talked me into playing soccer.  I didn’t much know how to p lay goalie, but I was quick and aggressive.  I figured that I ‘owned’ not just the goal, but the whole box and goal area.  I did discover that if I played defensively, waiting on opponents to determine the action, I was sunk.  As a team, we managed to set a shut-out record that year.  (I had the worst game of my season the week after the paper reported the record and gave me credit.  I’ll save that for the post about pride coming before a fall.)

Anyway, I don’t know if it’s really true in all sports, but I have accepted that maxim that “the best defense is a good offense.”  That means, if you focus on the best outcomes rather than attempting to avoid the worst,  then you will probably do better.

On Sunday I taught from 1 Peter 2:4-10, about how God gives us a new identify and a new purpose.  He gives us the identity of ‘priests,’ that is, those with the incredible purpose to serve God and to serve the world.

Three things are to be true of priests.  They are to be:

  • Present to God
  • Connected to One Another
  • Engaged with the World

All three of those activities are pro-active, offense, scoring activities.    They are not passive activities.  And they are universal – to be true of everyone who has come to Christ.  They are not exceptional activities for a few high-achievers.

I don’t know that enough Christians know what the offense is, how we score.  Being a Christian is too often reduced to believing the right things, staying out of trouble, and avoiding those in trouble.  That’s defensive living, and priests don’t live like that.

Here’s what happens to me when I live defensively.  My problems, insecurities, and challenges set the agenda.  They become so much larger than they really are, and they often gain the advantage.

If your problems win often enough – they become your identity.  And, how fun that is.

But, the more you explore what it means to be a priest, actively on duty, everything begins to change.  Struggling in a relationship?  What happens when you serve that relationship as a priest?  For one thing, you begin to seek God’s will in the relationship, rather than your own.

What about it?  You going to run the offense?  You’ll be beat until you do.


  1. I'm puzzling over this three things true of a priest….#2.  Why and how must priests be connected to one another…in their role as a priest?   I see present to God and engaged with the world and, honestly, I think the fact that you perceive #3 as vital is what helps you bring such a fresh, realistic spirit to your messages.
    But I don't see #2. 

  2. stephanie Jane hersh says:

    Regarding #2
    As a new believer I have learned there are so many reasons to be in unity with one another as followers of Christ: look to 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 and Ephesians Chapter 2 : 19-22 Others see us better than ourselves. We represent a great  God and have been saved by His grace to represent His glory and to look to the needs of the saints in His glorious battle!

  3. I played sports for Many years. Soccer and softball mostly. One year in basketball, but that was a joke. I still prefer little league baseball as opposed to Adult baseball. Soccer has my heart though. When Hockey is really good ITS AMAZING! I have been on the teams that win some and lose some, the teams that lost Every game, and those teams that Win every game. I didnt mind working hard and sweating till you just couldn't see straight, but I always had a hard time when I saw that no one cared anymore. Like no one was having fun. When teammate or coach was really Mean. Its NOT a lot of fun to run till you may throw up, but if we are working together it can be.
    I was on many all star teams, and took the game seriously, but when you gotta be in a field with some chic you don't know for over an hour, blocking her and her you… well, I found that I chatted during down time. "Hey, I am so gonna be all over you, and try to Never let you touch that ball. Its gonna be awesome." They'd laugh and then when it came time to Throw down, we would, and if one of us got hurt, the other would help the wounded up.
    I've had over time, after over time, ending in shoot outs in the rain. Very Dramatic! Sometimes tears on the way home. . . but it was always better if you had a reason to look at your opposing team at the end and say 'Good Game" and Mean it, and hear "Good Game" and know you did your best. For me, that meant playing hard, and laughing when I could with whoever I could. Now, I Was a child, but isn't it nice to see people in Olympics shake hands, smile, and maybe even laugh before they Throw Down?

    I had some other points on your words Mark, but I guess I said all I needed to. I wonder how Jesus would have played games? Sports? If he did… if those men got in the field and throw things back and forth. I wonder if he had fun being connected to others?