The Myth of the Minor League Christian

Are You in the Game or Tailgating in the Parking Lot?

When I first stepped out by faith to pursue God’s call to write, I heard many people say, “That calling is not for everyone,” as if the call to follow Christ on a faith adventure were reserved only for the Christian elite—not the rest of us who should “bloom where we’re planted” in the Christian minor leagues.

Minor_league

You can discover more of my story and the resistance I encountered in my book A Story Worth Telling. But the idea that there are two classes of Christ followers—the Major and Minor Leagues of Christianity—is not new.

The Apostle Paul addressed this urge to create an upper class of Christians when he said, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6) The Church unintentionally reinforced this thinking with the idea of sainthood, setting up icons to commemorate ordinary Christians doing what God had called them to do. And for many centuries, everyone knew the best Christians, those most serious about following Christ, secluded themselves in monasteries. The major league faith took place behind those walls, while the rest of the rabble settled for being minor league disciples.

We see the same thinking surface today when young Christians conclude the only faithful response to Christ’s call is to become a pastor, priest, or enter “full-time ministry.”

Minor League Christians, Major League Problem

Here’s the problem with this thinking: By creating a privileged class of grace recipients, we lower the value of the grace we have received ourselves and diminish our responsibility to follow.

We expect the major league Christians to walk with great faith because their calling is somehow different from ours. Moses, Paul, Esther, Martin Luther, Billy Graham, George Mueller, Mother Teresa, Nate Saint—the list goes one. Their calling moved them to live authentic lives of abundant faith. Our calling is but to survive without sinning too much.

The rich young ruler whom Jesus sent away disappointed wanted to inherit eternal life, but only as minor league disciple. As long as it didn’t cost too much, he was in. So it was with many of us. We like the idea of following Christ by faith—as long we can define what that means for our safety, comfort, and convenience.

Sure, we think, His grace is great for those members of the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11, but the rest of us didn’t qualify for quite as much grace. Who are we to think ourselves to be amongst the elite followers of Christ? How could we be so arrogant as to presume we might be capable of such faith? After all, we’re not one of the twelve, we’re not one of the patriarchs, we’re not one whose faith story will one day be told in places and times we cannot now imagine.

No, we conclude, we’re not in the major leagues when it comes to following Christ. Our destiny is to be a minor-league disciple, to follow in the shadows—faithfully, mind you. Persistently, to be sure. But not in a way that disturbs the status quo.

We may never do great things for God, but, after all, we certainly do better things than most of the rest of the world around us.

When we think this way, we’ve bought into the Myth of the Minor League Christian, the idea that we can follow Christ with minor league faith and still qualify for an eternal pension and a cottage by the crystal sea. Our best hope is to someday get called up to play in a game or two, collect some autographs, and snap some pictures for Instagram before returning to our mundane Christian existence where no one can tell the difference between the lives we live as Christ followers and the ordinary human life.

The Truth about Your Discipleship Status

But grace doesn’t work that way. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Either our sins are fully forgiven or they’re not. Either we truly believe and follow or we don’t. Either we walk away from Christ or we join him in the field.

Every Christ follower wears the same uniform—the cross of Jesus Christ.

We’re all called to come and die, to surrender all to gain all, to suffer rejection even as our Lord was despised and rejected of men.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

All who follow Christ share equally in “the fellowship of His suffering and the power of His resurrection.” (Philippians 3:10) None of us lack anything we need to follow with the greatest faith imaginable.

We are all now dead to what feels comfortable and alive to an everlasting hope. We are all freed from the constraints of fear or love for earthly comforts in order to walk in newness of life and live a story worth telling. 

Far from being the grounds for arrogance or thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, the desire to live a story worth telling is the desire to live a life defined by Christ’s call to follow.

Jesus bids us to come and die, not come and hang out until His return.  He calls us to take up our cross and follow without exception and without reservation, not take up space on the bench. He calls us to get in the game, not tailgate in the parking lot. 

The idea that we can follow Jesus at some imaginary minor-league level and leave a life of abundant faith to someone else is from the pot of hell and smells like smoke.