I remember as a college athlete that there was something that embarrassed me. It was not making a bad pass, or missing a shot, or giving up a lay up to the guy I was guarding. That stuff bothered me. It did. I hated when that stuff happened. I did not like when a friend came to watch my team and we lost. But there was something that made me shrink in my soul. It was when I walked off the court or field and my uniform was clean. There was no sweat, or grass stain, or blood or stench. And when that was the case, it meant one of two things: 1. That I had not played hard, or 2. That I had not played at all. A clean uniform was a sign that, for all practical purposes, I was spectator and could have just bought a ticket and chilled in the stands.
One of the most sobering and frustrating things as a Christian (and in my case, as a pastor of good-size church) is to see so many professing Christians with clean uniforms. They have are just not playing. They are not sharing their faith story and the truth of Jesus. They are not in community in the form of a small group. They do not give to eternal things like their local church even though God has entrusted them hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have been gifted but do not prioritizing leveraging that gift to serve. A clean uniform is representative of a disobedient life. Go play. Go get dirty. Go get bloody. Go sweat. Go fail. Go win.
When I was in high school I read this quote by Theodore Roosevelt and have tried to live my life in this way and with God’s strength I’m still doing it at 67.
“The credit belongs to the men and women who are actually in the arena, whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and tears; who strive valiantly, who err and fall short again and again; who know the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause. And , if they fail, at least they fail while daring greatly; so that they’ll never be with those cold and timid souls who neither victory not defeat.”