God’s Favorite Team? No, Really.
I’m not sure which Super Bowl team is more “Christian”.
I mean, the Seahawks have Kam Chancellor and Russell Wilson and they say Christian stuff. But then they lose Good Person Points because of Marshawn Lynch’s post-touchdown moves.
And the Patriots may be cheaters, and that clearly loses points. On the other hand, they’ve tried valiantly in press conference to avoid making junior high-level jokes about deflated footballs. So that’s something.
Since we’re all talking sports, though, let me tell you about God’s Team. And if this sounds like a hokey means to graft Bible-talk onto a cultural moment, it totally is. But I’ll take what I can get, and there’s a very legit point to be made here. It’s not an anti-sports thing, either. I’m something of a Sports Nerd, myself, in addition to being a General Nerd. I’m a fan who doesn’t appreciate the usual, “People cheer at sports games, why don’t they cheer like that at church?” thing. (I want to answer that with “Maybe because the worship leader didn’t just break four tackles and dive over the cone for the come-from-behind win.”)
Being a fan means tying up your identity in a team, and not even a “team”, really, since players and coaches come and go. I, for instance, pull for the guys who wear the St. Louis Cardinals jerseys, whoever they are.
Yes, we’re really cheering for laundry.
We deeply align ourselves with our teams. Witness the remarkable discrepancy in reactions between Penn State fans and non-fans to the scandal in Happy Valley. Or San Francisco’s approval rating of Barry Bonds, who’s deplored everywhere else. Or how Seahawks fans can say their guy caught the ball, and Packers fans can say their guy caught the ball – on the same play. Both sets of fans could pass lie detector tests. They mean it.
When you have a team, you’re biased toward them. You see things through their eyes. Your very heart is right there, with them. You take what happens to them personally.
When our team wins (they’ve proven this!) our own self-esteem rises! They studied single, male football fans, and found that after their team won, they were more likely to rate themselves as attractive. Pathetic? Heck yes, we are. Thanks.
I don’t personally know a single player on the Illinois football team, and when they lose, it used to make me super-grumpy. This is a problem, because a) it’s immature of me, and b) WE ALWAYS LOSE. (True story, a highlight of last year: Our punter punted it directly off the back of one of our own dudes.)
And I still buy Illinois stuff, because I’m a fan. I take time to listen to the games, and I buy tickets and stickers and hats and stuff. When you care, your resources follow.
Anyway: God has a team. He aligns Himself with them. I suggest we do, too.
He chooses the poor. The weak. The despised. The rejected. The widow. The orphan. The lonely. The sick. The imprisoned.
This is not a subtle theme of scripture. God, Himself, was introduced to the world in a feeding trough, into an occupied land. And then He made the announcement, the Royal Arrival Announcement… to lowly shepherds, the ones who prepared lambs for sacrifice. God wanted them to see what He was about to do.
That’s His team. HE identifies with them, personally. What you do for and to them? You do for and to Him.
So make them your team, too. (Sure, you’re free to choose to put your heart elsewhere, but make sure you read the end of this blog entry.)
Does this mean you have to BECOME sick to identify with them? No. Nor imprisoned. Nor orphaned. But that’s His team. We’re told to become like Him in humbling ourselves, and considering others better than us. Align your heart with them.
Humility. Humility. Humility. The people whose hearts are with God’s Team will eschew Big-Shot-ism and flip the who’s-really-important script upside-down.
Put your resources behind that team. Your time. Your treasure. Go all in. Those are His people. Identify with them. (Don’t have a sticker for that team? I’ll send you one!)
Oh: Here’s a random starting lineup, if you’re interested. They’re All-Stars, in the Kingdom. I’m learning to like this team a lot, even a bit more than the Cardinals. For one thing, they’re more giggle-y.
One other thing about this team, God’s Team – and it’s something you should know:
In the end – make no mistake. Jesus promised it. They may be in last place, now, but…
They’re going to win.
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