Throwing Obedience

throw openMonday Night Football is one of my favorite parts about the fall season. I watched the fourth quarter of the game yesterday between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons (only, of course, after game five of the World Series finished). The Saints remained undefeated largely due to their quarterback, Drew Brees, who threw two touchdowns and completed 25 of 33 attempts for 308 total passing yards. Regardless of what it may seem so far, this is not a post about football or Saints marching in or my becoming a bandwagon fan.

After the game, Steve Young talked about how Brees “threw open” his receivers. I had never heard this phrase before. Neither, apparently, had his MNF co-host Stuart Scott. So Scott asked Young to explain what it meant to “throw someone open.” Young defined two ideas behind the phrase. First, throwing someone open protects the receiver. The receiver can trust that when he runs toward the thrown ball, no defensive back is going to come out of a blind spot and thump him. Second, though not entirely distinct from the first idea, throwing someone open is a way to get the receiver into the clear. The receiver can trust that he will be more open running toward the thrown ball than if he stayed where he was.

I was still marinating in this phrase today and thought perhaps there is a bit of pastoral application. Sheep should be able to trust that when their shepherd leads in a particular direction, they will become more Christlike than if they stayed put. A pastor should protect his sheep, leading in a way that, even if they can’t see a certain temptation or difficulty coming, they are kept away from threats as much as possible. He should always lead his sheep to a more holy place on the field. In other words, pastors should throw their sheep obedient.