Are You Playing Offense or Defense?



For many weeks our TV sets have had a full schedule of football games. If you are a football fan, this is the best time of the year as teams compete to ultimately win the title of the championship of their division or franchise. You may not be a fan, but you likely know more than one or two people who are. Sales of clothing and gear representing each team can be found almost everywhere and I know at least two of my grandchildren found shirts of their favorite teams under the Christmas tree.


Football historians generally regard the birth date of football in the United States as November 6, 1869, when teams from Rutgers and Princeton Universities met for the first intercollegiate football game. In those early games, there were 20 players to a team and football still more closely resembled rugby than modern football.


By 1873, representatives from Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton, and Yale Universities met in New York City to formulate the first intercollegiate football rules for the increasingly popular game. These four teams established the Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA) and set 15 as the number of players allowed on each team.


Walter Camp, the coach at Yale and a dissenter from the IFA over his desire for an eleven man team, helped begin the final step in the evolution from rugby-style play to the modern game of American football. The IFA’s rules committee, led by Camp, soon cut the number of players from fifteen to eleven, and also instituted the size of the playing field, at one hundred yards with two ten yard end zones.


Players on football teams are chosen for their skill and gifting to play either offensive or defensive positions. Football players tend to be specialized in their roles on the team, especially offensive football players. Some players have managed to play multiple positions on offense and defense even at the professional level, but this rarely happens.


If you are a football fan, you already know something about the roles of the offense versus the defense. The offense is tasked with moving the football down the field (led by the quarterback) to the opposing team’s end zone to score. These players tend to be big and strong to protect the quarterback in his quest and to stand against the defense whose primary task is to prevent the other team from achieving their movement of the ball down the field to score.


As believers (a team) in Christ we are caught up in a great goal of building the church on this earth and preparing for the Second Advent, Christ’s return. Most of us are aware of the battle we find ourselves in with the forces of darkness that seek to stop us from moving forward with that goal. We likely have heard sermons on spiritual warfare or even read books about it. Both are helpful reminders to us of the unseen world around us that powerfully affects what we do see, but sometimes we can get caught up in the idea that we are consistently playing defense in this battle.


In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Have we considered what this one verse makes clear?


From the beginning of time walls were built around cities to protect them from their enemies. We see that routinely in our reading of the Bible. Nehemiah is a great place to look at the building (rebuilding) of the walls around the city of Jerusalem after it had been decimated. If you read the text carefully, you see the importance of the hanging of the gates and the purpose of those gates. Gates were a part of the defense of the city and key to protection.


As believers we are not called to hide behind the enclosures and gates of our churches and play defense. We are called to go out using the armor Paul writes about in Ephesians 6 and take the world for Christ.


Mark Batterson puts it this way in Chase the Lion, “In other words, we’re called to play offense. Faithfulness isn’t holding down the fort until Jesus returns. Faithfulness is taking back enemy territory by shining light in dark places.”


 J.R.R. Tolkien gives us many glimpses of the difference between playing offense and defense against tremendous odds. One of my favorites is when King Aragorn leads a trembling army to the black gate to charge against the very enemy they fear in The Return of the King. His lines to his troops are epic:


“I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!!!”


We are called to transform the world!


Even as the word of King Aragorn echoes down through time, the Lord is calling on us to be men and women of valor who do not shrink back from moving out into whatever field He has called us to.


As we steadily move forward into 2017, will we play offense or defense?







17 thoughts on “Are You Playing Offense or Defense?

  1. I absolutely love the imagery here, Pam! As a sports Mama, it works well for me! A great reminder to get on the offense and not just in on the defense 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing hope at #MomentsofHope!
    Blessings and smiles,

    1. Thanks, Lori! Your response delights me since many ladies have no sports contest for the imagery! Always a blessing to hear from you! May you have a God-kissed day, my friend!

  2. While I’m not a huge fan of football, I did enjoy watching my boys play. But Lord of the Rings – oh my, one of my favorites!! And such a great quote for a great reminder to play offense as a believer.

    Thank you for linking up with Literacy Musing Mondays!

  3. Although I am not a football fan, I caught the message about offense and defense. It is easy to be offended when a second look lets us know – it does not really matter. We must defend our selves by keep our armor on, and staying in God’s word. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    1. Thanks, Hazel. I hear you. I know there were likely some variance in how those who don’t know football would hear what I was saying. Thanks for your response!

  4. Pam, such a great post! I want to be on offense too, and I just love that you used Tolkien as a comparison with football. You know, I actually had another church leader say to me once that we were both playing the same game, but we weren’t on the same team. I was shocked and very surprised. I love where you said, we need to be actively taking ground back from the enemy not just keeping things safe. I am so glad to be your neighbor at #unite linkup this week. I have been gone from blogging since November, but it feels great to be back 🙂 Blessings.

    1. Thanks so much, Debbie! That comment would be shocking to me as well by a church leader. So glad you are back from your time away! Shalom and blessings!!

  5. Very insightful comparisons! You’ve inspired me to be intentional about what we are to do as followers of Christ. We are to go! Help! Serve! Great post.
    Happy Tuesday!

  6. We’ve definitely been tuned into football a lot as well these past few months. And finally tonight, with Alabama playing again for the national championship. Alabama is our biggest rival (we are Auburn fans in our household). I’m thankful that in the true Kingdom we can all play together instead of against each other!

    1. A close friend of our oldest granddaughter’s is an Auburn alum who would undoubtedly vote with you tonight! I agree about the true Kingdom where we can all play together and pray we continue to all do a better job of that no matter what part of the family tree we belong to!

  7. I want to play offense Pam! I am excited to watch my Clemson Tigers play Alabama tonight for the National Championship of college football. My Patriots are two games away from the Super Bowl next month. I love your thoughts and the analogy here. Satan wants to keep us on the defensive but God has given us the sword of the Spirit as an offensive weapon. May we prepare ourselves by diving into His word to keep us moving forward in His will. I will not ramble because you have hit on two of my favorites: football and Lord of the Rings;) Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I hope you have a wonderful week and many blessings to you and yours in 2017!

    1. Yeah!! Your response delights me!! I’m not sure many of my female readers will be “into” the football analogy, but I love football (especially high school and college). My dad loved the game and took me to local high school games throughout grade school. I loved what he tried to help me “get” about the game and to learn as I sat beside him in the bleachers. I later attended that same high school that was known for its football, winning numerous high school state championships over time. (It all started when Paul Brown got the team rolling as their coach from 1932-1940 even though the team had been in existence since 1894. Paul Brown actually hailed from Massillon and graduated from the school he coached in 1925. The stadium there still bears his name.) Hope your Clemson team does well tonight even though they defeated a rebuilding OSU team a few weeks ago! They deserve the title! Blessings on your week and 2017 as well. P.S. My post on Wednesday and Friday will carry the theme I started today.

    2. I just *might* be pulling for your Clemson Tigers as well tonight, Horace, even though I live in Alabama. 😉 As you might know, Alabama and Auburn are huge in-state rivalries, and I’m an Auburn fan. The Bama fans around here can get pretty obnoxious about their wins, so a Clemson win tonight might be humbling. ha.

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