There’s a verse in Ephesians that used to confuse me as a kid. It talks about how God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish in his presence in love.” I wasn’t raised under the Calvinistic viewpoint that God predestined individuals to be saved, but I also didn’t know how this verse fit into the scope of free will. If not me, if not individuals, who did God choose before the foundation of the world, exactly?

The elucidation of this verse finally came to me in my late teens through an analogy about basketball: if someone decides to form a basketball team for a college, they prepare the court, the facilities, even the team name before a single player is selected. Then individuals try out for the team.

Think about that in light of Ephesians 1:4. Long before you or I or anyone else existed, God was pulling together a team. He knew this team would face a lot of persecution and controversy throughout its existence. He knew the “game” would be hard—blood, sweat, and tears would dot the court He was planning to build. But He assigned us an amazing coach, one who was tempted in every way as we are, who leads this team on a sure charge to victory.

Now it’s up to us as individuals to decide if we’re going to try out for the team.

The amazing thing? You’re guaranteed a spot on the roster as long as you confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior and believe God raised him from the dead. That’s it! No prior training required. God isn’t hand-picking the unwilling off the street and dumping them onto the court, either; He invites everyone to join, to play their best for Him, to get skin in the game because we HAVE skin in the game. It’s ours—and it’s other people’s, too! There’s no room for sideline benchwarmers here, and in the game of life on God’s court there aren’t even plain spectators, either. We want as many people playing on our side as possible because there are really only two sides, and our coach says “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” (Luke 11:23)

The stakes could be no higher and the reward no greater. This is not some gilded trophy we’re striving for, but the prize of eternal life. And the souls of those not yet on this team are at stake.

Before the very base of the world was laid, God always intended for there to be a team, and it is up to the individual to choose if they will partake and recruit others to join in.

God has a team. Are you on it? And if you are—are you pulling your weight out there on the court?