Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Story of an Oxgoad, the NFL, and You

I once preached a sermon based on the text of Judges 3:31. It says this:
"After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel."
I'm sure I was copying someone else I'd heard, but the point of the sermon was pretty simple. Shamgar was one of Israel's judges, appointed by God to lead His people.

In this instance he goes to battle against the Philistines with an oxgoad. What's an oxgoad? It's a stick used to poke oxen to keep them moving while they're ploughing a field. It's not a weapon... usually.

So why did Shamgar use an oxgoad for a weapon? It wasn't because he was skilled in the ancient martial art of oxgoading. It's my thesis (guess) that he used the oxgoad because that's what he was familiar with. Shamgar wasn't a warrior. He was a farmer who walked behind stinky oxen to plough fields.

God called a farmer to rescue and lead his people as a judge. When Shamgar received that call, he answered it with what he had on hand... an oxgoad. And God used him to save Israel.

Each of us faces a similar challenge to answer God's call where we find ourselves. Don't wait for the perfect time, perfect place, the most receptive person, or even more training. If God gives you an opportunity to speak or act for Him, do it with whatever you have. You just might save a nation!

All that to introduce this awesome video by Matt Hasselbeck who is now the backup quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. The website also has interviews by other Christian athletes.

Maybe it's different in the US with a lot of Christians hailing from the Bible Belt, but I suspect not. In my experience athletes and sports clubs are pretty difficult situations to discuss faith. It's much easier to discuss sex, or binge drinking, or gambling, or sports, or all sorts of things... but not Jesus. Professional athletes face the additional temptations of hedonism, pride, materialism, popularity, and greed. I just point that out to say, "Don't underestimate the challenges for Hasselbeck to share his faith with his teammates. It's certainly not easier than what you and I encounter in our social circles."

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