The Ground Rules

John Wooden, who coached UCLA basketball teams to eleven national championships, was more than just a coach. He developed the character of the young men in his charge. At the beginning of a new season his big, red-headed center Bill Walton came to school wearing a full beard. It was against coach Wooden’s rules to have facial hair, and Walton was obviously challenging the boundaries (that’s politically correct for “being rebellious,” I think). Inevitably Coach Wooden confronted him about the beard.
“But coach,” the young man objected, “I have every right to wear a beard if I want to!”
“You’re absolutely right,” the coach said quietly. “We’ll miss you greatly on the team.”
Next practice, Walton recalls ruefully, he was there without the whiskers!
I can only guess at the reasons the famous coach might have had for his rules. But several truths could be given. The first is that it was coach Wooden’s team, and to be on that team meant that players would have to play on his terms. The second is that had Wooden allowed this rule to be broken, more important rules would probably have been challenged. Perhaps the most important factor, however, was this: Coach Wooden’s teams kept winning national championships. Coach Wooden’s players invariably became great NBA players because he was a very, very good coach.
Sounds like pretty good reasons to do things Coach Wooden’s way!
God’s sovereign will is a little like that. He doesn’t make us do his will. We have the right to live as we please. We can worship him according to our own desires. We can move the boundaries of morality to suit ourselves. We can ignore the terms of entrance into his church, and accept, as “saved” people whom God has not promised to save.
Guess God will miss us in his church! It is still God’s team. And it is a very successful team, too. Every one who is on the team makes it to eternal life.
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish: no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
It is our right to reject God’s ways, but if we want to be on God’s team, it must be on God’s terms.

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