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Remembering the Titans

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I love movies…and to be honest, I REALLY love sports movies.  One of my favorites is ‘Remember the Titans’ (not my #1…that title belongs to ‘Hoosiers.’  What?!  You haven’t seen it?  No worries, stop reading this right now, find it digitally and watch it!  Don’t worry, this will be here when you get done).

Coach Boone has been selected to coach the T.C. Williams High School football program, created after an all-white and all-black school were combined.  Tensions were high in Alexandria, VA in 1971, and a newly integrated institution did not help.  The players echoed the sentiment of their town…and at the first day of football camp a fight broke out. 

After breaking everything up, Coach Boone delivers an inspiring speech.  Here’s a snippet: “Some coaches cut a player because they think he’s hurting the team, or he’s not up to snuff.  But not me; this is a public-school program, I will never, ever cut a player that comes out to play for me.  But when you put that uniform on, that Titan uniform, you better come ready to work.

We will be perfect in every aspect of the game.  You drop a pass, you run a mile.  You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile.  You fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts, and then you will run a mile.  Perfection…let’s go to work.”

And then the scene cuts to the players doing their conditioning workouts.

One thing I love about this scene is how well it illustrates a profound, Biblical truth found in Ephesians 2:8-10: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Just as Coach Boone would never cut a player, God never turns away a sinner.  “Though millions have come, there’s still room for one” as the old hymn says it.  And you are accepted not because of your awesomeness, but because of God’s love (you’re saved by grace). 

Now, one thing we need to remember is that not everyone is on God’s team, just as every high school kid at T.C. Williams High School was not on the football team.  In the movie, if you survived camp, you got a jersey.  In the Christian faith, it’s a little different, but there is something that we must do to be on the team.  There is a proper way to respond to God’s Grace.  For this, I always use two passages:

Romans 10:9

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Acts 2:38

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Here we see 4 things we are to do in order to receive this gift and be placed on God’s Team: Believe, Repent, Confess and Be Baptized.

Believe:

You have to believe that Jesus is who he claims to be.  He is God in the flesh, perfect in all things, and the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.  But don’t stop here, because “even the demons believe, and shudder.” – James 2:19 

Repent:

If you repent of your sins, it means you literally change your mind.  You change your mind and call wrong what God calls wrong.  You decide you will do your best to no longer live for yourself, but for God and His call.

Confess:

Whenever we baptize someone, we take their confession of faith: I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Loving God, and my Lord and Savior. This is our public declaration of Christ’s Lordship in our lives.

Be Baptized:

Lots of controversy over when and how someone should be baptized, as well as how important it really is.  Simply put, we want to do the things the Bible says to do the way the Bible says to do them.  With baptism, it is always after someone’s declaration of faith and it is always immersion.  This is what we believe and practice.

This is how you get on God’s Team.

Once you put that uniform on…that Christian uniform you better come ready to work.  When we declare our desire to follow Jesus, we have not reached a finish line.  It is the start of a new life in Christ.  One with many challenges, persecutions, self-denial and sacrifice.  Being a Christian is not easy, and you are asked to do unnatural things (like loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you, for example).

We are to be diligent in doing the good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.  Everyone has a different position, or role to play on God’s team.  Some throw, some catch, some block, etc. What good works is God calling you to?  What changes is he calling you to make in your life?  Now that he has the title Lord (or Coach, if you’d like) he gets to call the shots.  Though I might not always agree with the call, I’m confident that my coach knows what he’s doing!

Alright, team…let’s go to work!

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