Mark Out the Pitch.
Growing up as a lad who loved to kick a ball around there was always an opportunity to mark out a pitch. My next door neighbour Lisa, just a year younger than me, loved playing football. We would mark out our goals with the trees in her garden being the goalposts and the edges of the pitch would be the garden wall one side and our imagination the other. At school we either had the field or the playground and here we would either use our bags or our jumpers for goalposts, and often argue about where the pitch started and ended. But as long as we had a surface and some sort of ball the game could be played. Jumpers make great goalposts except when the ball goes over them or miles above them. Has it hit the post or gone over the bar? Many games would have been held up while arguments pursued over whether it was really a goal. Goal line technology, what was the fun in that? Although it was a bit of fun there were rules, blurred lines and some sort of understanding of how to play the game. Whether all of these things came together for a fair game and result were often dubious to say the least. But the boundaries of the pitch, although a little blurred at times, were set. The jumpers were as serious as the real thing to us. There can be no football without the boundary of the pitch. I see this with my lads now, they cannot just have a kick around, there must be a goal, an edge, a parameter. What is the point of having a ball without a goal?
Move the Goalposts.
Sometimes during a game we would realise the sides were a bit unfair so we either shuffled the teams up or moved the goalposts out a bit for the losing team to make their goal bigger, to give them more of a chance of scoring. The jumpers or coats or bags would be repositioned and the game would continue. The goalposts had been moved. This phrase is often used to describe a situation where the boundary has maybe changed. It could be said the church has moved the goalposts on the issue of allowing women to minister or on allowing people to attend without a shirt and tie or women wearing trousers instead of a skirt. The goalposts move. This moving of the goalposts can be offensive to some and revolutionary for others. More recently issues like gay marriage, embracing people of other religions and philosophies and the Divinity and salvation of all peoples can be seen as a shifting of goalposts. Letting more in. Changing the boundaries and opportunities to score. Again the moving of the goalposts is freedom for some, and the irritant of others. Some believe the goalposts should be left alone and never messed with. Others think these goalposts, like the jumpers, can be moved as culture changes and as times change. The church should be ever relevant and therefore the goalposts are always on the move.
Remove the Goalposts.
I believe it is time to remove the goalposts altogether. One persons boundary for safety and to mark out the game, is a partitioning to exclude another. It is time to realise that Jesus did not come just to shift the game but to blow apart the game altogether. He came to create a playing fields where the boundaries are unwritten within and not marked out on life. Freedom to live has been delivered to all. The whole ball park has been ripped up and the universe within us has become the only limitation. There are no limits, only those we allow to be marked out. Doesn’t this removal of goalposts mean that anything goes? Yes it does. Does this mean we can sin as much as we like? Why do we always get to this question when freedom is expressed? Many of my friends have never read the ten commandments but they do not plan to murder any time soon. They know stealing is a bad option and that having an affair is a bad option. Even without the religious goalposts they know what is fair game. Yes people steal, commit adultery and sadly commit murder, but these things were done even when the covenant was known by all forwards and backwards and the goalposts of religion were firmly in place in community. What we need to be more concerned about is offering true freedom. Freedom to live without my goalposts marked out for them. Their goal is not my goal. Every hour the part of the field to wander in may be different. Boundaries are just created out of fear of losing. They are created for a dependant culture. They are created for me and my benefit, or so we think. It is time to remove the lines, take away the roof and pick up the jumpers and never return them to the floor. The goalposts have been forever removed. Everything is up for grabs. The future is there for the creating. What will transpire from this will be something never seen before. But it is the end of the line for jumpers for goalposts.