Tennis, Anyone?

Tennis is one of the most popular international sports of all time. Modern tennis using rackets, a court, and net dates back to 16th century England under King Henry VIII.

The two common forms of the sport are singles and doubles. In singles, there are two opponents, one on either side of the net. The simple strategy is to hit the ball as far from your opponent as possible, while still being in bounds.

In doubles tennis, there are four opponents, two on either side of the net. Here, the strategy is often to hit the ball right down the middle so there is momentary confusion as to which player should take it. Or so both should take it and collide in the process. Or that neither takes it and it goes unreturned.

Sports in the Bible

Even in New Testament days, sports were immensely popular— boxing and track being the most common. The Apostle Paul often used sports to illustrate the Christian life.

If he were writing today, Paul might use tennis as a helpful illustration—especially in the context of what is “our part” and what is “God’s part” in living the Christian life. One thing is absolutely certain: “We cannot do His part, and He will not do our part.”

Using the tennis analogy, the devil is a master at hitting the ball right down the middle, causing momentary confusion. Or causing us to run into our partner in an attempt to take His shot. Or not realizing it was our shot to take and it going unreturned.

In any of those situations, we lost the point!

Playing Our Part

So how can we learn which parts are ours and which parts are His in living the Christian life?  The answer is surprisingly simple: through His Word!

In life, as in tennis, the more time we spend with our partner the better we get to know them. The better we get to know them, the more we learn to anticipate their actions.

It is incredible watching championship doubles tennis and how the players intuitively know to move out of their partner’s way. Or move into a shot because one has a stronger backhand or quicker forehand. The same is true spiritually.

Knowing Your Partner

The wonderful presupposition of the Christian life is that we can truly know our Lord Jesus. Through His Word and the Holy Spirit, we can know Him as we know any other person in our life.

The Christian life is built on faith. And the three key verses of faith are:

  • “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” —Hebrews 11:1
  • “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” —Hebrews 11:6
  • “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” —Romans 10:17

The more time we spend with God, the more we will get to know Him. As we invest disciplined, intentional, quality time with Him each and every day by prayerfully reading, studying and meditating on His Word.

As we become doers of the Word, we purposefully allow Him to help us grow and change spiritually. We will gradually learn to see things as He sees them and begin to have His thoughts about life and relationships.

Practice Makes Perfect

There are no shortcuts! The best tennis players are the ones who have spent countless hours through endless matches over many years perfecting their game.

The strongest Christians are those who invest countless hours in His Word and in prayer. They persevere through endless challenges and storms over many years. They focus on strengthening their relationship with the Friend who sticks closer than any brother.

They know intuitively which shots are His to return and which are theirs.  Over time He has helped them develop their strength and skill, improving their game and reaching their full potential. Because He has already faced and defeated every opponent He always has the perfect strategy for every game, set and match!

If He is for us, who can be against us?