A Coach Makes Disciples
Amos Alonzo Stagg (1862–1965) was an American college coach in multiple sports, primarily football. He popularized the huddle, the Statue of Liberty play, onside kick, the T formation, the end-around, and the forward pass. People say that he practically invented football as we know it. He was a devout Christian and his biggest legacy was shaping people’s character. He said, “The coaching profession is one of the noblest and most far-reaching in building manhood…..Win the athletes of any college for Christ, and you will bless the world.” Stagg coached until age ninety-eight and he discipled men in Christian faith and practice, helping the whole person to be a whole-hearted servant of Christ.
John Piper said, “People need to become Christians, and then need to be taught how to think, feel, and act as a Christian.” Billy Graham said, “To be a disciple is to be committed to Jesus as Savior and Lord and committed to following Him every day. To be a disciple is to be disciplined in our bodies, minds, and souls.” Stagg devoted himself to helping people to be salt and light for Christ.1
This continues from our previous post. You can read Marks of Jesus’ Disciples.
Jesus’ Disciples Are the Salt of the Earth
Scriptures: “You are the salt of the earth….Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other….Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Matt 5:13; Mark 9:50; Col 4:6)
Comment: We use salt to make food tastier, but one source claims that there are more than 14,000 uses for salt. Our grandmothers used it as a cleaner before the invention of modern chemicals. People are on low-salt diets, but they can’t leave it out completely. Our body uses salt to balance fluids in the blood and maintain healthy blood pressure, and it’s also essential for nerve and muscle function.
In Bible times, salt was used to preserve meat and other foods from decay. So likewise Christians are to fight against corruption, decomposition, and destruction in the world, and preserve whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy as God defines it. In every of life, we are to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”2 Christians are to be faithful, honest, reliable, and trustworthy people who make Jesus’ teaching attractive to others. That’s a high calling!
Take away: Mark 9:50 and Colossians 4:6 focus on two specific ways we are to flavor and preserve life: peace-making and upbuilding speech. The Lord hates people who stir up conflict in the community.3 Christians are to be peace-makers who have peace with God through our Lord Jesus and show that we are truly God’s children by reconciling people to the Lord and to one another.4 Christ says: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”5
Jesus’ Disciples Are the Light of the World
Scriptures: “You are the light of the world….People do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven….The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Matt 5:14-16; Prov 4:18)
Comments: These Scriptures remind me of an early Christian document, The Epistle to Diognetus (120-200 AD). It defends Christianity against critics and Chapter 5 describes how Jesus calls His followers to live:
They do not live to satisfy their flesh (sinful nature), but live to please God. They live on Earth, yet their citizenship is in Heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, while surpassing the laws by their behavior. They show love to all people, yet are persecuted. They are misunderstood and condemned. As they suffer, they are renewed in love for God and others. They are poor, yet make many rich. They lack everything, yet overflow in thanksgiving. They repay curses with blessings and abuse with courtesy. For the good they do, they suffer as evildoers. Yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hatred.6 Christ calls Christians today to live this way also.
Take Away: John Stott (1921-2011) wrote about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, and the diminishing respect for human life in the Western world and asked: Whose fault is it? He said: If the house is dark at night, no sense blaming the house. That’s what happens when the sun goes down. That’s what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. Stott asked: “Where is the light?…Where is the church?…Where are God’s people?”7 Christians are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Christ commands us: Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.8
Prayer: Heavenly Father, for the good we have left undone, forgive us. For your past help to us, we thank you. For being your salt and light, give us your strength and love. Do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to your power that is at work within us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
To be continued
Notes (various translations); 1 Christian History, Aug 2008, “Football’s Pious Pioneer.” 2 Titus 2:10. 3 Prov 6:19. 4 Matt 5:9; Rom 5:1. 5 Eph 4:29. 6 www.logoslibrary.org. 7 Adapted from “Christians: Salt and Light,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 109. 8 Phil 2:14-16.