I would spend hours in our driveway shooting baskets or hitting a tennis ball against the garage door (which now that I think about it must have driven my parents mad). For me, practice was just as much fun as playing. I loved those hours spent in the driveway.
Even in school, I would look forward to practice. Though I didn’t particularly care for the running drills, I definitely enjoyed feeling stronger. Though I didn’t particularly like the repetitive hitting drills, I definitely appreciated the results––muscle memory and increased confidence.
And then there were the games and matches. The opportunity to see the results of all that hard work, which is why we had practiced, so that when crunch time came we could actually use those skills.
There are some people who love to compete, but would rather not have to deal with the tedium of practice. Ironically, others would prefer just to practice . . . to learn the skills, know the game, but not have to deal with the heat of competition.
But practicing and playing is a symbiotic relationship. For ultimate performance, both are required. And as Christians we need to remember that. Many of us love Bible studies and devotions. We love learning about God’s word, but we really don’t want to have to put it to the test. We don’t want to have to live it in the real world where our weaknesses might be exposed. Sharing God’s word and work in our lives makes us nervous. Conversely, there are others who would prefer to jump right into the arena without proper preparation.
There are many verses encouraging and/or commanding us to study and meditate on God’s Word (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2) and preparing ourselves (I Timothy 4:15; 2 Timothy 3: 16-17). But we are also commanded to put that knowledge into action (Philippians 4:9; I John 3:18).
We need to know the basics, but we also need the arena and all its uncertainties––different lies, obstacles, uncertainties––to hone those skills. Knowledge in a vacuum leaves us far short of wisdom.
While sports offers us a safe middle ground––pick up games with friends––Christianity doesn’t. As Christians we can’t stay sheltered and safe, living our Christian life just among our Christian friends. For our Christian life to me meaningful, it must be lived in the real world.