You know you are getting old when you talk about “the good old days” when school actually started AFTER Labor Day. Starting school in the middle of summer just seems crazy to me, but then I was a C student. When school starts in this state, you know that true religion is just around the corner. That’s right…..Football. College and pro.
You know it’s time to get down to something that really matters. You can’t get away from it. It will lead newscasts, fill newspapers and magazines, it will be the primary subject of conversation everywhere, new color identification will cover our cars, houses and ourselves and a state will put all of its hopes and dreams on 18 to 22 year old men.
We will over fill massive houses of worship each Saturday, getting up during the wee hours of the morning, staying up to all hours of the night, driving hours, and sitting in blistering heat, torrential rain or even the occasional cold snap. If we can’t make it to these worship centers we will make sure to arrange our schedules to be in front of the television to witness the events. We will wear lucky caps, shirts, shoes and no telling what else. We will sit in our lucky chairs or spots, tap our feet a certain way, not doing this or that, or doing this or that, in hopes of affecting the outcome.
We will celebrate in jubilation if we are victorious, as if we had anything to do with it. We will mourn in sorrow after tragic losses and defeats. We can go from yelling our favorite cheer to anyone, anywhere to throwing shoes at the television. The very quality of our lives hinges on the outcome of a 60 minute game. So much passion, so much zeal. So little perspective.
I must admit that I used to be that person. I can’t remember when it started to change but somewhere along the way my perspective changed. Hopefully it had everything to do with trying to be the man God calls me to be. It can still be a struggle. Have you been like this? Are you like this today?
Football is nothing more than entertainment. No different than a movie. So why does it mean so much? Why does it have such an important place in our lives? We can make idols out of a lot of things in our lives. It’s easy to pick on football, especially in this state. But we can idolize money, work, hobbies, people and religion. What place does Jesus want in our lives? What place should we put Jesus in our lives?
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 10:37 & 38 (NIV).
What would this world be like if we had the passion for Jesus that matched or exceeded our passion for football? Well that’s just ridiculous, people will think we’re “Jesus Freaks.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say we should wear Jesus t-shirts, hats, or jackets; have Jesus pictures in our house; Jesus stickers on our cars; or Jesus flags flying at our homes.
We can be anywhere in the world and see somebody, a complete stranger, with a shirt of our favorite team and without hesitation yell out a cheer, offer a smile and a wave. But I struggle to talk about Jesus to people I know and see every day.
If we are true followers of Christ, we know where His proper place in our lives should be. He expects it, wants it, requires it and absolutely deserves it. He alone is worthy. He should be above our spouses, our children, our families, our friends, our jobs, our wants and above anything and everything else, including sports.
Many years ago I got up to leave a football game where the outcome was already determined and not in my teams favor. Someone sitting near said that I was being disrespectful to the team for leaving early. I probably uttered something that I am not proud of, or at least thought of something, but went on my merry way. A couple of Sundays ago I was sitting up in the choir area at the end of the service. It shocked me and quite frankly upset me at the number of people who left before the service was over. Leaving during what may be the most important time of a service. I don’t mean a few, it looked like a jail break.
I thought about what happened at that football game. I don’t know if leaving a football game is disrespectful or violates some sport fan protocol. But leaving a worship service before it’s over? Maybe there was good reason or maybe the time allotted for God had run out. Either way, life is all about balance and perspective.
“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6 (TLB).
There is nothing wrong with enjoying football, but what place does it have in our lives? More importantly, what place does Jesus have in our lives?
Your team may not do too well this year or maybe they win them all, either way for those of us who are followers of Christ, our eternal victory is won. Our hope is in Jesus’ return. He is coming back, where will you have him on your Top 10 list?
Run to the Cross!