Monday, October 14, 2013

Faith and Football

I recently read a post about why a pastor quit attending sporting events.  It was satire, and I suppose if you related to this you saw the humor in it.  It read:

12 Reasons Why a Pastor Quit Attending Sports Events

1. The coach never came to visit me.
2. Every time I went, they asked me for money.
3. The people sitting in my row didn’t seem very friendly.
4. The seats were very hard.
5. The referees made a decision I didn’t agree with.
6. I was sitting with hypocrites—they only came to see what others were wearing!
7. Some games went into overtime and I was late getting home.
8. The band played some songs I had never heard before.
9. The games are scheduled on my only day to sleep in and run errands.
10. My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
11. Since I read a book on sports, I feel that I know more than the coaches, anyway.
12. I don’t want to take my children because I want them to choose for themselves what sport they like best.
I would add, the people next to me were talking and I couldn't hear the announcer.  It was distracting.

In case you didn't get the irony, these are all reasons people give for not going to church.  I read this right before the hometown football game last Friday and as I sat in the stands cheering wildly for the Hornets to Go-Fight-Win, I realized I wasn't there because of the coach, or the songs, or band (okay a little for the band), I was there for two reasons:  1.) I was there for the kids in my youth group and 2.) (probably the most significant) I LOVE football.  I cheer when they win, I cheer when they lose, I just love the game.  In spite of the people next to me talking or the child on the lap behind me that kept kicking me in the back, I worked to pay attention, because I love the game.

Then I thought about how this applies to people and church.  It really doesn't matter if the pews are uncomfortable, or if the church leadership does things you don't always agree with.  It doesn't matter if the people there are just as lost as you are, it doesn't matter about the music or the pastor.  The distractions do not matter nor any of these things matter if you love to worship God.  Ultimately, that is the driving force that gets people to care about coming to worship.   That, and the people you love.  Love God.  Love People.  Easy, right?

With the mainline denominations in decline, I would say we have taught them that God loves them, in essence the world revolves around them, but have not taught them to love God.  They may believe in God or wish to belong to a church, but without love for God and others it doesn't amount to a thing.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13

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