The home team had the ball on their own 40-yard line with 12 seconds remaining in the game. Down by 4 points, they needed to drive 60 yards for a touchdown to win the game. A field goal would not do them any good.
They lined up for the play. The quarterback and tight end connected on a 18-yard completion. The tight end stepped out of bounds with 5 seconds to play.
On the next play, the split end who had been covered all day suddenly broke free down the sideline when the cornerback slipped and fell to the turf. The quarterback delivered the ball and the receiver caught it at the 25 without breaking stride.
There was nothing between him and the goal line. It was hero time. He was at the 15, the 10, the 5 . . . he raised his hands in celebration . . . and lost control of the ball!
The ball squirted out of bounds as time expired. The stadium moaned a collective, “NO!” Defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory and the home team lost the game.
As football teams watch game film to learn from their mistakes, so preachers dissect sermons. In reliving yesterday’s sermon, I realized with horror that I fumbled the ball on the goal line.
I preached on 1 John 2:28-3:3, “Is Fellowship With God That Important?” I explained what it meant to abide in Christ, to keep him at the center of our lives. I explained that those who abide in Christ will be prepared to meet him when he returns. I included a few illustrations and applications as to what it would look like in daily life.
But I never asked the congregation, “Will you abide? Will you make sure your lives are pure so that you can meet Jesus with confidence?” I did not invite people to make a change. I carried the ball to the 1-yard line, and promptly fumbled before crossing the goal line!
SIGH! I need to rewind the game film and learn from my mistakes. I don’t want to be satisfied with merely giving information. I want to pursue transformation. I want to teach for lifechange.