When I was frequenting a bakery cafe on Ohio State’s campus, there would often sit just a few feet from me the university’s women’s crew coaching staff and key leaders from the school’s national powerhouse rowing team. They met there regularly, seemingly to keep communications wide open in both directions and to minimize potential disruptions to team unity, focus and success. It was good leadership.
One morning, my attention tacked to “headwinds” at the table on my left. A younger member of this select group was wearing a t-shirt of another university, and seeing this, the coach kindly, but firmly took issue with the matter, emphasizing the student’s identity as a team member and educating her on the impact of the individual on the solidarity of the whole. I can’t say whether the rower learned anything that day, but I came away with a deeper appreciation of responsibility and resolve.
To be fair, it is easy to lose perspective in life, and course-corrections are often necessary. For instance, though the believers in Ephesus now belonged to the ultimate championship crew, the body of Christ, some still sported their old t-shirts of darkness—greed, impurity, and obscenity, in their case—inconsistent for the individual and confusing to the team. So, Paul reminded them of their new identity in Him whose jersey they now wore: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light …”1
What do we wear in their place when we remove the uniforms of our past? Again, we look to Paul. Steering the Thessalonians also from the depths of darkness into the lanes of light, he emphasized self-control, embracing who they were in Christ and aligning their actions with their identity in Him. How? By “putting on faith and love … and the hope of salvation.”2 For when we really grasp what Jesus has done for us, when we openly accept for ourselves the deep love He has for us, we are overwhelmed to the point we eagerly discard the old and put on the new. Faith, hope and love—these are the team regalia that bind us together as we represent Christ in a watching world.
Father, thank you for saving me and giving me new and eternal life in Christ. Grace me to truly understand who He’s made me to be, and inspire me to live and to give in faith, hope and love. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Christ in me is freedom.
1 Ephesians 5:8
2 1 Thessalonians 5:8
See today’s Scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11.