My blood pressure rose dangerously while I cheered my beloved Patriots in the SuperBowl game last night. I yelled encouragement at the TV, whooped when they succeeded, and growled when they stumbled. But, in the end, even this fan knows ‘it’s just a game.’ I have little interest in the way that the Philly Eagles play because I have invested no time in understanding the team, their coach, or their players. But I will bend your ear about the amazing coach of the Patriots, the style of our (note the personal ownership) quarterback. Thus, there was a personal sense of loss when my team lost last night.
Why do some of us care so much for our team?
The psychology behind it is interesting, having to do with identity and bonding. We develop an identity around a team, wearing the logo, bantering with friends about them, until we feel like we are part of it. That makes us defensive and protective. Then, too, we (yes, adult men do this!) somehow become convinced that we know the players. We talk about their strengths and weaknesses as if they are personal friends. We might even refer to them by first name, like they were a member of our family! This bond appears to silly to those outside of the sport, who find our fanatical devotion inscrutable.
There is something to be learned from the passionate love of sport in America.
What if Christians chose to identify themselves publicly with Jesus, talking about Him, celebrating the wins of His team (the Church) and cheering her successes?
What if we felt it personally when Christians (who are part of our team) fell on hard times or did not participate fully in life for Christ’s cause?
What if we strategized and invested ourselves deeply in making Christ and His kingdom known in all the earth?
What if we wore the cross, not as a proclamation of superiority, but as a mark of devotion?
What if we were so bonded with Jesus that we spoke of Him like we might speak of our favorite athlete?
Yes, I know the analogy fails at some point, but there are certainly things to be learned, aren’t there?
Jesus invites us to love Him. In fact, a fanatical (read, passionate) love is a foundation of the life that truly pleases the Lord. When queried about this, hear is what Jesus said. “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!” (Mark 12:29-34, The Message)
Are you just a disinterested ‘casual’ Christian?
Or, are you a passionate disciple, a lover of Christ, who desires to see others love Him, too?
Here is a word from the Word. As you meditate on these words of Jesus, I pray that He will become precious to you, awakening a deep devotion. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew 13:44-46, NLT)
Abba, on this new day,
I offer myself to You,
Desiring to serve You better,
to know You more,
To be filled with a holy passion for
You and Your work in this world.
May all other loves become secondary.
Call me, Spirit of God, to You.
Make eternity’s joys my present hope.
In Jesus’ holy Name. Amen