I love college football, I love church, I love Jesus.

So, when God combines all of these in an illustration, He’s definitely got my attention!

Today I was studying the story in Luke Chapter 5 where Jesus gets into Simon’s boat and asks Simon to put it out away from land so that Jesus can speak to the ever-growing crowd longing to hear what Jesus has to say. After Jesus finishes teaching the crowd, Jesus asks Simon to put the boat further out into deeper water and to let down his nets for a catch.

Even though this was during the day, and even though Simon had been fishing all night without any luck, Simon did as Jesus said, taking the boat further from the shore and cast his net. When Simon initially responded to Jesus’s request, he told him:

“Master we have worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your word, I will do as you say and let down the nets.” (emphasis mine)

This was a pivotal moment in Simon’s relationship with Jesus. You see, he had converted from a hearer of the word to a doer of the word. Obviously in this case and in all cases throughout scripture, Jesus is The Word.

When Simon became a doer of the word, obeying Jesus’s request, the result was awe-inspiring! The catch of fish was so great that he had to call upon his companions on the shore to come help him bring in the huge catch of fish.

This was the story that planted the question in my heart…are Christians missing our third down conversion?

For my non-football friends, you need to know what a 3rd down conversion is….

In football, each team has 4 chances to move the football 10 yards, to the 1st down line. Once they have tried 3 times without converting to a first down, meaning they did not move the ball 10 yards to the 1st down line, they have the option to try on that 4th and final down, try for a field goal, or kick the ball away to the other team.

If my explanation is confusing or unclear, this the definition according to Wikipedia:

“Three and out is a situation in American football in which a team, after starting an offensive possession, executes three plays and fails to get a first down, thereby in most cases forcing them to punt or, if close enough, attempt a field goal.”

There are several stats on each football team about their percentage of 3rd down conversions. You see, once a team completes a 3rd down conversion and makes it across the first down line they get another set of chances to move the ball 10 yards. If not, and they kick it away to the other team, the offense has kicked away their ability to score on that particular drive.

This is where I thought, do we as Christians often times miss our opportunity to convert the 3rd down?
Do we miss where Jesus is leading us?
Do we miss his instructions for us?
Do we effectively “kick away” what God has for us each time we do not convert from being a hearer of the Word to a doer of the Word?

There are stats as this as well, just as there are stats on the effectiveness of a football team to convert a 3rd down. There are churches closing all across America, and these stats are sobering, as they list the number of churches closing their doors each year.

This is where I cannot help but think that we are missing it.

Due to the stats I’ve read, it appears that you probably see the same in the church where you attend. People walk in, hear the message, and walk out, just to do the same the next Sunday, staying hearers of the Word only.

If this is true, then perhaps it could be true that in church staff meetings the same conversation is taking place: mentions of prayer requests for more volunteers needed to serve the local church…the need for more doers of the Word, more disciples of Jesus.

It’s an awesome multiplication problem to ponder, as, when there are more doers of the Word, there would be more disciples, which would then bring more hearers of the Word, which would then create more doers of the word, which would then create more disciples…..you get the picture, and isn’t it an awesome picture?!

I can’t help but think that when hearers of the Word get a stirring in their heart, they mistake it. They try to fill that stirring with something else, not seeing it as their opportunity to convert from a hearer-only to a doer. My heart aches when someone who is so close to the doer-conversion, instead ends up leaving their church, having that Word that was planted in their heart, snatched away by the enemy, or instead filled with a distraction, a misdirection to keep them out of “the boat” where God wants them. My heart has literally been heavy all day with this thought. I’ve watched too many families, near and far, step further and further away from church, missing out on the awesome catch of fish that comes with converting from a hearer to a doer.

I know for a fact there have been times when I missed what God had for me. When I look back, reflecting on times in my life when I stopped short of the 3rd down, not finishing the drill, not converting to a 1st down, my heart pangs. BUT, those pangs make me all-the-more-determined to try my best not to miss a fishing trip with Jesus again. Which, in turn, makes me all the more driven to stay in communication with Jesus, in His Word, and in prayer.

If you are a hearer of the Word, don’t settle to stay there…become a doer!

When Jesus issues a Word to you, even if it doesn’t make sense (like telling a fisherman to cast a net during the day), at Jesus’s Word to you, I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to obey as Simon did.

Because, if you do, you just may need to call on others to help you with the overwhelming goodness that God pours-forth on you! That goodness would lead to salvation of others around you, which, is what it is ALL about!

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of a man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearer who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has a mediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
James 1:19-25