“Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships.” Coach Paul Bear Bryant was said to have coined this phrase many years ago, and for many coaches, it is an idea that guides setting up their teams. Great defenses can shut down great offenses. Those great defensive teams may not score a lot of points, but they keep the other team from scoring. They may even set the offense up in better field position making it easier to score. I’m a Chicago Bears fan and they have played in the Super Bowl twice. They won the first time they were there. While they had a decent offense, what everyone remembers about that team is their stifling defense. Defense won that championship.
If you think about life, especially the Christian life, defense wins in life also. Oh sure, those evangelists that we see on TV have a great offense and they lead many people to follow them…oh, and Jesus, too, but how many times have we seen televangelists brought down by moral failures? How often have we seen church staff members who seemed to be doing a great job, suddenly fired because of moral problems. A strong defense in the Christian life means that we have our lives right with Christ and we stay obedient to Him. Then, when non-believers attack us, the worst they can say is that we are a bit fanatical. “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
There’s another saying about defense: “The best offense is a good defense.” In football what that means is that a good defense will score themselves and set up the offense in good position to score. A good defense will keep the opponent’s offense off the field, allowing the offense to wear out the opponent’s defense. What that means for us as followers of Christ is that if we keep our hearts and our behavior right, we will earn the right to talk to people about Jesus. How many times have we heard people comment on another Christian by saying something like, “He wants to talk to me about Jesus and he’s living like the devil? No way!” The way we show our commitment to Christ makes a difference in how people listen to us. In fact, if you walk with Christ each day and His grace makes the difference in your life that it should, you are more likely to have people ask you to pray for them in difficult times, or ask how it is that you are able to deal with life the way you do. It’s a lot easier to share the love and grace of Jesus with other people when they ask you to.
If a good defense means that we are living in obedience to Christ, then how should we proceed on offense to share the gospel of Jesus with others, knowing that we won’t always be asked those questions? Do you know that we have instructions for that also? They’re found in Matthew 25:34-36. Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, show hospitality to the stranger and the alien, clothe those needing clothes (perhaps even think of helping those who are poor have winter clothing for the cold days), take care of the sick, and visit those in prison. We need to remember that while the list there isn’t an exhaustive list, it has a theme: meet the needs of people around you. If you develop the attitude of helping others because you are being obedient to Christ, you probably won’t even notice how much you do. Those Jesus commended for doing the above, didn’t even realize it. When people ask why you’re helping them, you have a chance to share the words about the love of Jesus after sharing His love by your actions.
Oh Lord, help me to get my life right with You. Cleanse me of sinful thoughts and attitudes. Help me to live obediently. Then, give me the opportunities to show Your love and grace to others.