Monday, August 18, 2008

Ping-Pong & Life: Following the Rule Book

Table Tennis might not be the most favorite sport for viewers of the Olympics, but the speed and accuracy of the players is mindboggling. Table Tennis is actually another name for ping-pong. Someone recently gave me a ping-pong table and after many years of not playing I'm again having fun at home with family. My brother-in-law, David, and I, our highly competitive, so we decided to look up the rules of ping-pong to see if we were playing according to the rules of the game. We quickly found out that we were not.

Ping-pong, like any other sport, has rules by which you must play. For example, you play sets of 3 out of 5 games, each player serves only two points and then switches server, you must toss the ball behind the base line and 6 inches in the air before hitting it, the player who reaches 11 points wins, etc. One of the surprising rules of the game that I learned is that when playing singles you can serve on any area of the opposite side. I thought that as in regular tennis you must serve to the opposite side (this is the way I played the game years ago). I also learned that when playing doubles you must serve to the player's side directly in front of you. Also, once you reach a 10-10 score, each server only serves for one point and then switches until someone wins by two points.

Following the rules of ping-pong ensures that everyone is following a uniform standard of play wherever the game is played. The rules are also set up in such a way to allow servers to switch instead of having a dominating server continue to pile up points. The reality is that whether playing ping-pong, chess, soccer, baseball, or any other sport, rules must be followed in order to have uniform play and orderly flow of the game.

How about God's Word? Often times we sin when we try to play the game of life while ignoring God's word. God's words are not suggestions for us to decide whether or not they might apply in my life according to how I feel like playing life. His words are not suggestions but a revelation of God's character and his ways which are always best for his people. The Bible says, "Turn my eyes away from what is worthless! Revive me with your word!" (Psalm 119:37). Perhaps we need to stop and look up the rule book for life to see if we are following the intended instructions for right living.

Of course, the Bible is much more than a rule book since it contains God's promises and much about living the Christian life, God's purposes for his Creation, the future, etc. Some people don't like to think of God's Word as a rule book. God's rules are not intended to shield us from the good things of life but rather to provide us with the ways of life that will provide for optimal freedom and enjoyment during our years on earth. To follow the ways of God is to experience the power of a clean conscience and a sense of living life as a winner. Actually, our rule book is summarized by the following: Love God and love others (See Matthew 22:35-40.). Our lives should be filtered through the lens of the Great Commandment of love.

Ping-pong is a lot of fun and it makes sense to follow the rules of the game for maximum fun and enjoyment. I guess I could invent my own way of playing which is contrary to the official rules of ping-pong, but I would never be able to play in a tournament, where my playing really counts. However, I don't have the luxury of putting aside God's instructions because I will always loose. Read the Bible regularly and find out what pleases the Lord for playing strong in the game of life.
Por Su Gracia y Poder

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