Any sports coach will tell you that they can predict a players performance in a game by seeing how they perform in practice. A good coach will use practices to understand each individuals strengths and weaknesses. The coaches job is to maximize individual strengths so the whole team can operate to the best of its ability. Without practice, a coach doesn’t know what kind of team he/she has to work with.
Practice is essential in any sports activity. Wouldn’t we expect it to be important in our walk with Jesus too? Yes! Accepting Jesus into our lives will get us on the team of Christianity. However, it doesn’t guarantee we will be in the starting lineup-that’s our decision to make. After Jesus was baptized by John, the Bible says in Matthew 4:1, “He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." I don’t think God was checking out the ability of Jesus-He was God in the flesh. I think He was demonstrating that after we give our lives to God, He will test (practice) us see what He has to work with.
God tested the faith of Jesus, through practice, by allowing the devil to tempt Jesus. I don’t find it ironic that after Jesus passed the temptations of the devil, God slapped Him on the butt and said go get in the game! Matthew 4:17 says, “From that time on Jesus began to preach...” You’ve got to practice (be tested) if you want to play in the game. A loving God would not put you in a situation that He hasn’t equipped you-through practice-for. In fact, it would be cruel of God to do that. The world crucified Jesus on a cross; God was the loving coach that prepared Him for that game winning shot-and it ended the game of games.
Practice hurts. Practice will leave some scars. Practice will leave you tired. But practice will get you in the game. The biggest lie in Christianity is that you need to be on His team for 30 years before you get in the starting lineup. You can know the playbook (Bible) like it’s no one's business, but if you ain’t willing to sweat... God won’t equip. The greatest thing about following God is He doesn’t watch film to highlight past mistakes. His forgiveness allows you to perfect it on the practice court; you don’t need to be perfect in the game.
One of the biggest dividers in the church today are Christians that don’t want to practice. They want to live safe lives and rely on church attendance, sin comparison, and good deeds to get them into the game. Practice requires a humbleness and understanding that those practicing are practicing because they aren’t perfect. Practice requires walking into the wilderness, being uncomfortable, and allowing God to strengthen/test your faith.
Practice is not fun. But God can’t equip us if we aren’t willing to be tested. You don’t need to be the best one the team. You just need to be willing to use your skills to better the team.