This morning we met at Church to prayer walk in preparation for Revival’s kick-off.  Some chose to pray in the Sanctuary; others in classrooms spread throughout the building.  Others of us walked around our church building, calling upon God to move mightily in our midst.  As I walked and prayed, I even asked God to bless the parking lot and those who would choose to worship with us in the morning.  I counted the visitor spaces and then noted the number of handicap spots, all lifted up to the throne of grace.  And then I got to thinking about those things that handicap the church.

Whenever we hear the word “handicap,” our brains immediately picture an individual with a physical disability.  This infirmity might have been caused by accident or through the natural aging process.  Either way, we envision a loss of mobility.  And then a truth struck.  Every church in America suffers a handicap, a loss of mobility and effectiveness caused by lukewarm believers.

The Apostle Paul likened the body of Christ to a physical body, each member a part, gifted with certain abilities and talents specifically geared for helping the Church to effectively reach people for the Kingdom of God.  Paul says it this way,

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”  Romans 12:4-8

When members of the body of Christ choose to ignore their gifts or to participate regularly in Kingdom work, their absence handicaps the local Church.  For instance, if your spiritual gift is teaching, and you refuse to use your gift, someone else has to take up the slack.  What if that person’s gift isn’t teaching, but jumps in to fill the gap because no one else will do it?  Will that person’s instruction be as effective as one whom God gifted to teach?  Probably not.

Let’s use a sports analogy.  Today I watched the Golden State Warriors annihilate the Houston Rockets in game one of the first round of the NBA playoffs.  In recent months I’ve become a huge fan of Stephan Curry of the Warriors, tuning into his games when possible.  In the first half of today’s game he scored 24 points in less than 20 minutes.  Once again proving to NBA fans his worthiness to repeat as the league’s Most Valuable Player.  Sadly, in this game he tweaked his ankle, exacerbating a sprain he suffered earlier in the season.  Though the trainers listed him available to play in the second half, the coach benched his star to save him for the rest of the series.  After the game, one of Steph’s teammates was asked about the possibility of Curry not playing in game two.  He admitted it would be a blow and that it would take more than one coming off the bench to alleviate the loss of the All-Star Guard.  He added that it really wasn’t possible to replace the reigning MVP.

The Golden State Warriors miss Stephan Curry when he’s not on the floor.  There is a noticeable void, and plugging the gap with the 6th, 7th, or 8th man off of the bench isn’t as effective as Curry weaving through court traffic and working his magic around the rim.  And this goes for Christians too.

Christians serve together on the same team.  When teammates fail to show up to “practice” or serve with lackluster effort, the entire Church hobbles along.  Predictably, someone with a servant’s heart assumes another role, but now shouldering a responsibility ordained for another who’s shirking his specific call.  Every sports fan understands the debilitating loss created by a star player’s injury, but not every Christian realizes the integral part he has in the family of God, and how his absence creates a gaping void.

The Coach has called.

Will you get in the game?