When I play hockey, one of my weekly tasks is packing up my hockey bag with my skates, clothing, and protective gear all that have been washed and dried from the previous game. Along with sharpening of skates or re-taping a hockey stick, it is a part of the ritual hockey players go through to get ready.
If you play in an organized hockey league on which you will play different teams each game, one of the standard items that all team members receive is a jersey with the team’s name or logo or sponsor on the front.
Unlike the “participation award” that youth programs give away to ALL who play, the jersey actually has meaning because it lets everyone who cares to know that YOU are a member of a team.
If you play in any type of pick-up game where sticks are placed at center ice to pick teams, you will pack both a dark and a light jersey because you will not know which one you will wear until the group is divided up into two teams…that is unless you like to wear a “pinny” that has been sitting in a hockey bag reeking with sweat because it was never been washed since the last game!
Pinnies, which some people say/spell "pennies," are the loose mesh sleeveless jerseys every player gets on the first day of practice or when they show up to camp. They usually come in reversible colors- one side dark and one side light. They are used for everything- splitting up offense and defense, warming up before games, and playing scrimmages in the off-season to keep the game jerseys clean.
My dark and light jerseys that I bring are from teams in the USA and other countries and are rotated each game because I have a lot of jerseys!
If you love professional hockey, chances are you own a jersey from the team that you like. The jersey tells everyone which is your favorite team. It is worn with great pride while at the games or at home when watching on TV.
And wearing it allows a person to make believe that they too play on the team. Looking in my closet at all the jerseys that I have, you would probably say that I, too, live in a make-believe world!
I like every jersey that I have been given or purchased; but I treasure more the ones that I received when I played on a team.
Hockey player and coach Herb Brooks said in 1980: “When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates. And the name on the front is … a lot more important than the one on the back! Get that through your head!”
I like that statement because the name on the front of the jersey reminds the wearer of the jersey:
1.) That he or she is a part of a bigger team; usually with the same goal (pun intended). Together they can accomplish so much more as each person does their individual assignment. In sports and in life there are no lone rangers.
2.) That when they wear the jersey off the ice, they represent everyone else on the team. Where I used to work, we used to say; “One ‘ah-shucks’ can wipe out ten ‘at-a-boy’s”. In other words, what I do represents everyone else on the team. How I act or conduct myself reflects the rest of the team.
3.) That the wearer of the jersey also is a representative of the sponsor or owner of the team. Like it or not, they may be the only billboard that the community sees.
As a Christian, I realize how true this is supposed to be among the different Churches as well as among Christ’s followers. It is His team that we joined. It is His Name that is metaphorically on the front of our jerseys. He is the owner (or LORD) and the Head Coach; He calls the plays.
After all, to be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ or Christ bearer. We were signed up by Him in a team that is made up of so many people from all around the world.
It is a team that is in a variety of different church buildings on an average Sunday morning. Each one is a representative of Jesus and is unique in how the service goes, how baptism is done, what version of the Bible is read or whether we vote as democrats or as republicans.
2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are God’s ambassadors as though God were pleading through us. In other words, He is doing the work; not us.
That tells us that as Christians we represent God. It also reminds us that we might have the jersey, but it is the Name on the front that is so much more important than the name on the back.
So often Christians have forgotten that our lives not only are a representation of Christ but of His follows as well…
Brennan Manning said; "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
How many times have we as Christians misrepresented other churches or denominations or other Christians by not thinking about how we act or what we say?
How many times have we done things in the Name of Jesus that never really were in His Name?
How many countless souls have been pushed away in their hour of need simply because we are so proud of our name being on our metaphorical jersey that we have forgotten to realize that when you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates.
God is calling for the body of Christ to represent Him to this lost and dying world. Instead, the world sees the divisions in the Church.
The Apostle Paul wrote; “…that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26 NKJV)
Fellow Christians, I exhort you; we are on the same team! The name on the front is … a lot more important than the one on the back!