For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Excitement: Jesus vs. Sports

I'm a sports fan.  Have been for a long time.  Baseball, football, hockey, NASCAR.  Those are my main diversions, but I've been known to watch a bit of a variety of things.  I'm looking forward to the Winter Olympics, even. 

Sadly, we did away with our satellite a few years back, and so my sports watching has decreased drastically.  Especially since one of the local network stations we don't seem to be able to pick up is Fox.  That means no NASCAR (that one hurt), no Saturday baseball, no NFC football.  And this year, no Super Bowl.  Of course, having read and heard a bit about yesterday's game, it doesn't seem I missed much since I would have been rooting for Manning and the Broncos, but I digress.

One of the conundrums over the years has been Sunday evening church vs. the "big event."  Whether it's the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, a World Series game, or whatever, there are often events that happen at the same time as our evening service.  We know some will not attend because of the event.  Some want us to cancel because of the event.  Sometimes I want to stay home and watch the event!  But oh, what to do?  Jesus vs. sports?

Obviously there isn't really a competition.  Jesus comes out way ahead any day.  But the one thing that I hear over and over when it comes to these situations, something I've even said myself, is the "too bad Christians can't be as excited about Jesus as people are about _________________ (game, race, etc).  Sounds noble and "holy" to say, it really. 

Thanks to Adam Ford for putting it in this perspective.

Wait a minute, what do you mean, unnecessary?  Well, it's like this.  Actually, I can think of two ways of looking at it.  One has to do with our "too bad we aren't like this" statement.  Several years ago a guy named Jon Acuff posted a little item on something he called the "Jesus Juke."  That is taking any conversation that is about a lighthearted, fun, joking situation and trying to insert this serious, holy kind of thing.   He mentions laughing at a joke about something he saw at the airport, and having someone try to make some profound comment out of it about our spiritual faults.  Not that he disagreed about the spiritual truth; just that maybe this wasn't really the best time for it.

The point here: people enjoying a sporting event can just be people enjoying a sporting event.  We don't have to make it a Jesus vs. Sports thing.  It's ok to like sports, to have fun with it, I don't have to beat you over the head with a Jesus stick every time you want to watch a game.   Yes we can bemoan the lack of commitment and enthusiasm in the church, but we don't have to always do it in relation to the "big event."

And two, the other way of looking at it as to do with the "excitement" issue itself.  Thought I can't speak for Mr. Ford, I think what the above comic was getting at is simply this:  Jesus doesn't need a stadium full of people jumping up and down screaming his name once a week, or once a year, only to go back to their normal lives as if it never happened.  Face it, that's what happens at Super Bowls, etc.  We get all excited, make big plans, but then life goes on like it always did.

I think Jesus is much more concerned about lasting life change in His people.  Sure, we ought to be joyous, and "excited" about what God has done for us.  Our joy in Him should be evident.  His first miracle was to change water into wine to keep a wedding feast going, so joy is certainly a good thing.  But more than an emotional high now and then, God wants ongoing change.  He wants ongoing growth into holiness and humility and hunger for His Word.

Truth is, we already have too much of the once a week excitement-fest approach to the Christian life.  Too many already see the Christian faith as a now and then, get excited for the event, then go back to "real life" kind of thing.  True Christianity is about "real life."  It's about how we deal with day to day living, day to day joys, day to day sorrows, day to day service for our King.  Sure it's exciting.  And I don't even mind an "event" now and then to build that excitement.  But it's about much more than that.

So, excitement in the Jesus vs. Sports thing is really a non-starter.  Two different things.  Sports excitement is a momentary flash in the pan.  Jesus excitement is a daily experience of His grace.  I'll take the second over the first any time.

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