It’s less than two weeks away. It’s the highlight of our year, and everything we have been putting our energies toward thus far culminates in this one special, even sacred, time of year. No, I’m not talking about Christians and Eastertime, I’m talking about the NBA playoffs and our beloved Oklahoma City Thunder.
For die-hard sports fans like me, it could be embarrassing if we were to calculate and display, side by side, just how much we think about, talk about and emotionally invest in being a sports fan versus walking in the Christian Faith.
To attend a ballgame, people will spend inordinate amounts of money to get tickets. Further, we will spend hours, braving terrible weather and all kinds of travel inconveniences to be there to cheer on our team. And even when our team is not playing, we proudly wear our fan affections on our sleeves around town and are ready to defend them against attacks from the enemy (you know, like Golden State Warriors fans).
Meanwhile, many of these same people who are professing Christians will get scared off from attending church on a Sunday morning, because they heard it might rain. Some of these scarcely put anything in the offering plate, while others do not dare to share their faith in public or the workplace.
Before you think I’m down on sports and being a sports fan, I assure you I’m not. In fact, I enjoy all kinds of sports, both playing and watching. And NBA basketball and college football are among my very favorite. I sometimes wonder, though, if our energies for our teams could be matched and surpassed by our passion for the Lord.
The reasons and benefits of doing this are manifold. With sports, you get the thrill of victory (though more often the agony of defeat). With Jesus, He never fails us, and because of Him, we have ultimate victory and Resurrection life. With sports, your team’s victories only provides you team pride and bragging rights. With Jesus, any victories are of eternal worth.
I suggest we can take our sports enthusiasm and learn from it, translating into the faith realm. Here’s what that might look like.
The same kind of pride with which we attach to our favorite player, let’s publicly identify every day with our Savior.
The same kind of pre- and post-game analysis we do, let’s delve into the Word of God before, during and after Sundays.
With the same kind of commitment that compels us to the big game, match and exceed it by faithfully attending worship and Sunday school.
With the fervor of a lifelong fan trying to convert someone from their favorite team to yours, share the Gospel with another person this week.
These are just a few ways we can channel the characteristic passion we see for sports into our daily walk with Christ. I, for one, don’t want to hear one less cheer for our team or see one fewer “Let’s Go Thunder” banners this April. At the same time, I would love to hear and see just as much—or more!—enthusiasm for Team Jesus this April and always.