Lately a few of us on the team have been going to local high school FCA huddles in both North and South Philly. Each week, two or three of us will go to touch base with these kids and help them understand that there’s a lot more to live for than just winning and losing; it’s about Jesus Christ. We share our experiences, what we’ve been through, as well as the truth about life—both inside and outside the world of sports.
This experience of teaching and leading has been equally beneficial for us and the high schoolers. Most of us (except the two players who could quit football right now and become full-time pastors) are not public speakers, it’s not our strong suit, but this is a great opportunity for us to share our testimony and Biblical teaching with others. My hope for these student athletes is the same that Paul had for the church at Philippi:
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” —Philippians 2:12
While Paul was with the church, things went really well, but when Paul left the church to continue his ministry elsewhere, things got even better! This is when the church members kicked it into high gear. That’s what my hope is for these athletes.
I myself didn’t begin a relationship with Christ until my junior year in college. My message to these kids is what I needed to hear when I was in their shoes: You are not saved just because your grandmother, your mom, or your brother is a Christian. You have to make a choice to follow God for yourself.
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” —Romans 10:9
Only then does our relationship with Christ begin! There’s so much to learn and explore in God’s Word about His character and ministry. Lately I’ve been studying the book of Jonah, which is quickly turning into my favorite book of the Bible, because Jonah is just like you and me. It’s easy to read his story and think, “Why would he not do what God is calling him to do?” but I can count numerous times when I walked away from what God called me to do in a given situation. Then, when Jonah went to Nineveh to call a terrible people to repentance, he got ticked off when they did repent and God blessed them! I myself have watched people whose lives were filled with sin surrender their lives to Jesus, find new life in Him, and then be blessed by God to which I couldn’t help but wonder, “But why are the faithful still suffering?”
This book is a great reminder that I have no control over situations. Jonah’s is an extreme story—so full of real life struggle, failure, triumph, and hope. It confirms for me that God is willing to give us second, third, and fourth chances to repent and come back to Him. Who am I to ever think that I’ve sinned too much to be worthy of salvation by God? Like there’s an end to God’s grace. I’ll never be worthy, but Christ became righteousness for me! Jonah’s story, my story, and all of our stories give us the opportunity to share the truth that it doesn’t matter what a person has done or hasn’t done, we can never sin so much that God stops forgiving us. This truth doesn’t give us permission to continue sinning, but rather calls us to do everything we can to be like Christ. He is our boast and our confidence. We will not be perfect, but He is.
Trey Burton is a tight end with the Philadelphia Eagles and a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
The INCREASE is now part of The Sports Spectrum Network. For more stories like this, visit TheIncrease.com