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Football and our ultimate Passion

Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!  Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!  Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!  Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!  Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!  Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!”  Psa 150:1-6

I am a football fan.  I grew up around 30 miles outside of Seattle Washington and live just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.  That made this past weekend special because the Seattle Seahawks played the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the NFL playoffs.  My family wanted Seattle to win.  My son wanted to go to a public place to watch the game, and we ended up going to Buffalos, a sports bar and restaurant that was filled with large screen televisions.  This was the first time I had watched a game in a public place, and I will tell you it was an interesting experience.  We got there early to get a good seat and by game time, the place was full of Atlanta Fans.  With the four of us, there was probably five Seattle fans.  We received some fun heckling and jabs, but no one was upset with our Seattle jerseys (both Christiaan and I wore them)

The game started out as a debacle for Seattle.  By half time, Atlanta was ahead 20 to 0.  As I watched the Atlanta fans, they were cheering on every play with positive yardage.  And the greater the gain, the louder it became.  The second half was a different story, with Seattle taking the lead with 31 seconds left to go at 28 to 27.  It was interesting to watch the total change in the crowd.  They had become disconsolate, quiet and on the edge of their seats.  A completely different picture from the first half.  But that was not the end.  For Atlanta got the ball back and tried a 49 yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining.  They missed, which elicited a huge groan from the crowd, which quickly turned to cheers when it was determined that Seattle had called time out prior to the kick.  On their second attempt, they made it and the place exploded with cheering and high fives.  But then Atlanta accidentally kicked an onside kick which Seattle recovered near mid field that gave them another chance.  You should have heard the groans.  But when Seattle threw the last Hail Mary pass into the end zone and it was intercepted, the place went wild.  It was an amazing thing to watch.

Later, I pondered what I had seen and I asked a very simple question.  Why don’t Christians get this passionate about the fact the eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, all powerful creator of all there is loves us and gave His only begotten Son to die that we could be reconciled to Himself?  Should we not get excited about spending time with this wonderful person who desires to spend time with us?  It is sad that many Christians get more excited about a simple football game than the opportunity to fellowship with God.  This begs the question, why is this so?

And it is not just football, or sports exclusively.   It may be celebrities.  Too many people know more about, and are more interested in what Kim Kardashian or Honey Boo Boo are doing than what God’s Word says.  With many, making money takes priority over doing the work God has called them to.  The first century believers were marked with extraordinary faith, trust, and being sold out to the Lord.  We need to have this same passion for our Heavenly Father as they did.  However, far too many Christians are apathetic about their faith.  They do their duty and go to church, but do it as just something Christians do.  Why is this so?  I believe there are two reasons for this; they do not know, or they do not care.

First, lets look at the first one.  They do not know.  Many churches do not teach their members that it is OK to be excited about church, and many others do not provide a reason to be excited.  They have turned church into a dull get together with little reason to rejoice.  I remember when I was an elder at a church here in Georgia. I was standing in the back, in the event someone needed prayer.  Well, on this occasion, a couple was visiting and they were worshipping with their hands in the air, really giving their all.  You could see and hear the joy flowing from them.  But that joy was short lived.  I noticed one of the other elders walk up and speak to them.  After that, they became much more subdued.  I learned later that he had told them we did not do that there.  In essence, he told them we do not get excited when we offer worship and praise.  They did not want anyone doing anything that was out of the norm.  As you may have guessed, they never came back.  I saw for the first time that the church did not want anyone to become so excited they deviated from what they considered to be normal behavior.  I am sure that many churches, either overtly or covertly, keep the people from expressing their joy and excitement.  They have a distorted view of how we celebrate our amazing God.  We have too many Michal’s and not enough David’s.  We see in 2 Samuel 6:16, 21-22, “As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart.  And David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD—and I will celebrate before the LORD.  I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.”  David gave his all in worship and praise as they brought the ark of God into the city.  Michal despised what she saw, telling her husband the king that he looked like a fool, embarrassing himself.  But David did not balk, but told her that he would do much more in the worship of his God.  We need more that get excited about God.  Remember, excitement is infectious, and spreads throughout those around us.

Now, let us look at the second reason, they do not care.  Too many Christians do not take their Christian walk seriously.  They believe they have done what is necessary to be saved, but do not want to change their life or sacrifice anything for the God they claim to serve.  They do their duty by going to church, but merely go through the motions.  They sing the songs and hymns, but their voices are not lifted to God and the words do not touch their spirits.  Therefore, there are no changes taking places in their hearts, conforming them into the image of Christ.  They do not share about their faith because they do not want to offend anyone.   Prayer is a last resort rather than a way of life.  Moreover, many pick and choose the attributes of God they desire, while ignoring those they do not.  Thus, they create a god in their own image, one they can be comfortable with.  In doing so, they ignore the true God and have no real relationship with Him.  The true God is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere at one time.  However, the one we make up by picking all the attributes we want while ignoring the ones we do not falls far short of the reality of who God really is.  If we do not care to know the true God, make Him Lord of our lives, obey Him in every way, yielding completely to His will, then the fact there is not passion or excitement is understandable because there is nothing to be excited about.  And the only way we can get to know the true God is to spend intimate time with Him in prayer, praise and worship, and meditation and study in His Word.  We cannot know Him if we only spend a couple minutes a day, and an hour on Sunday focused on Him.

And when we look at these two issues, they have a common cause.  In Matthew 28, we read the following, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   The church does a good job at getting people to prayer a prayer for salvation, but most do a horrible job making them true disciples of Christ.  If we do not lead them into the life of the disciple, they will never understand what this walk is all about, and in truly understanding who God is, and what He has done for us.  Consequently, they will realize that He is not to be trivialized.  Knowing the truth is how complacency is shattered and passion is produced in the hearts of His people.

We as Christians should be the most excited of all people, because we have the most to be excited about.  We know the creator of all there is, having a love relationship with Him that goes far beyond any relationship we have with any person we know.  We have nothing to fear because He is on our side, taking care of us as a loving father protects and guides his children.  We have a tremendous future ahead of us, which we cannot even begin to imagine.  There is peace and joy in His presence, and He said He will never leave or forsake us.  What more could we ask for?  We should be passionate about this walk, and about the one who has provided all this and much more for us.  It is OK to get excited about your favorite sports team or entertainer.  It is natural.  However, we should examine our hearts to see what is our ultimate passion.  If it is not God, then we need to make adjustments in our life.  Because nothing should usurp God’s position as number one in our life.  The moment a mere football game becomes more exciting and desirable than time with God,  we find ourselves in a very precarious place, one we need to flee with all we have.

 

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