You may not be a sports fan but allow me to use a sports metaphor to explain the concept of relying upon Christ. Let’s say you decide to release some stress by playing basketball. At first, you’re shooting by yourself in a gym. Soon after, someone walks in and joins you. He asks, “Do you mind if I play basketball with you?”
“That’s fine,” you reply.
After a while, the other guy asks if you’d like to play a one-on-one game against each other. You agree, but then suddenly realize the other guy is the top college basketball player in America! You know you are probably going to lose, but you don’t want to miss the opportunity to play with such a great player.
As the game begins, you find yourself losing—badly. The top college player scores every time, and you have no way of stopping him. And when you attempt to score, nothing happens, because you don’t have the necessary ability or skills. The final score of the first game is 10 to 0. You get skunked.
Feeling tired and thirsty, you take a break to get some water. As you’re bent over the water fountain, you hear a voice behind you saying, “I see you’re getting terribly beaten by that college player. Would you like some help to win the next game?”
As you turn around, you find yourself face-to-face with the best player in the NBA. You respond, “Sure! Knowing who you are gives me great hope that I can improve. Just tell me what to do, and I will try really hard to do it.”
Then the best NBA player says, “I can tell you what to do, but that will not help you very much. I can offer you something much better. I’ve figured out a way to step into a person’s body and play basketball through them. But there’s one catch. If you ask me to come in, you will need to let go of everything you know about playing basketball. Then you will need to depend completely on me to play basketball through you. Are you willing to do this? Are you willing to exchange trust in yourself for complete trust in me?”
You think about this for a moment because it’s a big decision. Finally, you say, “Absolutely. I invite you in, and I will rely on you instead of me.”
When you go back out to play the next game against the top college player, you get the ball first. You think to yourself, “This feels really awkward to rely on this other person in me. I’m just going to play the way I know how to play.” Immediately you find yourself losing badly again. The problem is you still think you know how to play basketball.
Even while you’re playing, you hear the voice of the NBA player inside you, saying, “Trust me. Listen to me. Let me play through you with my abilities, my skills, and my way of thinking.” Slowly, but surely, you begin to do just that. You exchange your trust in yourself for trust in the NBA player. Then something amazing happens—you start to score! You’re also able to prevent the college player from scoring on you. As you continue to rely on the NBA player, you end up winning the game!
The college player invites you to play again. You excitedly agree. You’ve discovered that when you rely on the best NBA player to play basketball through you, you win. When you fall back into the old habits of relying on yourself, you lose.
If we apply this metaphor to Galatians 2:20 (I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.), it would sound like this: “I’m no longer on my own to play basketball. The best NBA player is playing through me. The games I now play, I play by relying on the best NBA player in me.”
I don’t mean to be trite with this metaphor, and you can apply this to music, video games, and so on. But do you see the connection? Jesus Christ has stepped into your life to play the game of life through you every day. It may be awkward when you first begin to trust him, but over time you will learn to rely more on him and less on yourself.
You might skeptically ask, “Does this mean Christians should ignore training, education, life experiences, and help from other people?” No, not at all. You give those options to Jesus and tell him, “As you live through me, if you want to use any of these, please do. If you don’t use them, I trust you completely to live through me anyway.”
Does that mean everything you do will turn out great? No. But it does mean that regardless of the outcome, God is pleased when you trust his Son to live life through you.
© Mark Maulding, God’s Best-Kept Secret: Christianity Is Easier Than You Think, Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing, 2017