In part 1, we found that just as different football teams win in different ways, so can we accomplish the goal in the Christian life: holiness in a variety of different ways. Also in part 1, I attempted to debunk some myths about football namely that defense wins championship and that to win a championship you have to run the ball and stop the run. We are going to go back to those myths today and look at them in comparison to the means of grace.
There are some things that you do in football that give you a better chance to win games. You have heard it said that defense wins championship, while this is not always true (the number 1 ranked defensive teams don’t always win the championship), it is still mostly true. This past year both the NY Giants and the LSU Tigers won championships largely because their defenses were excellent. So, having a great defense puts you in a better position to win championships.
Same thing with championship teams run the ball and stop the run. It isn’t always true, but it is mostly true. We like to think that championship teams have to have a great QB to win, and certainly QBs like Joe Montana, John Elway, and even Tom Brady attest to that, but we must remember that Trent Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl Championship about 10 years ago, and he will never go down as a great QB. But still, having a great QB gives you a better chance to win football games.
In the same spirit are the means of grace, by means of grace I mean the traditional Wesleyan understanding of outwards signs of an inward grace like prayer, worship, fasting, communion, reading the Bible, and talking about God with others. These are traditonal paths that people have found God over the years. Throughout the history of Christianity these means have been used as way to further ones relationship with God and through them became more holy.
We know, however, that these are not the only ways to deepen a relationship with God. Some experience God through a sunset, some through journaling, and others see God in the courage of a family member. Yet still the means of grace are the Christian answer to “defense wins championship,” and “you must have a great QB.” They are ways that are proven to be more effective than other means. For some reason God has chosen to reveal Himself in these peculiar ways.
Now, as we are all created differently, we may lean on a couple of these means of grace more than others. I love talking, so talking about God with others (Christian Conferencing) is one of my favorite, but I know that it is important for to also “Be Still and Know that I am God.” If we want to encounter God, we need to be open to using these proven methods for being in relationship with God. They aren’t the only way to holiness, but they are often the most effective ways.