Being a Denver Broncos fan, it pains me to say that the Oakland Raiders have had a respectable season this year. Last week the Raiders brought in quarterback Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer has had a decent career but hadn’t played in a while. Not to mention that had only been with the Raiders for a week and definitely didn’t know their offensive system. Despite this, the coaches put Palmer in during the 3rd quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs. The result? The Chiefs dominated 28-0 and Palmer threw three interceptions. What really stood out to me about this loss was the fact that Palmer was put into the game even though he only knew 15 plays by game time.
A couple of spiritual applications come to mind from this situation:
1. High Expectations Of New Christians. I don’t know what the coaches expected, but Palmer certainly was not ready to play in this game. He didn’t know the offense well enough and he just wasn’t ready to be on his own. The same is true with new Christians. Even though it is rarely intended this way, congregations often bring people to Christ and then just let them coast their way to a halt. New Christians need to be guided and taught continually. How would you feel if someone convinced you to move to a new country (with new culture, language, food, etc), and when you arrived they left you on your own and no one helped you to learn and adjust? It would be very frustrating. The same is true with new Christians and many end up falling away. Bible studies and mentoring shouldn’t stop at conversion. This should just be the beginning.
2. Expectations of Continued Growth. Carson Palmer only knew 15 plays last game, but if he doesn’t know more then that by the next game then he will likely find himself on the bench and soon without a football team at all. There are expectations that Palmer will continue to learn and become a better quarterback. The same is true in our spiritual lives. When a person has been a Christian for a few years, or even 10+ years, and yet they are still Christian “rookies,” there is a serious problem. We must keep on learning and growing.
With Palmer being very new with this team and inexperienced with their offensive system, the result was a 28-0 blowout. It’s clear that Palmer must improve if the Raiders want to be successful. Whether we are talking about a new Christian or a seasoned Christian, there also must be improvement in order to achieve spiritual success. Sometimes we need to help the new Christian to improve, and sometimes we just need to motivate ourselves to improve. The bottom line is, improvement is a must.