Football and faith
I bet without hesitation you can name your favorite football team, start singing the fight song from memory and have at least one jersey you could pull out on game day. Am I right?
I love the passion and conviction of college football fans. Fans scream, yell, point big foam #1 fingers in the air, paint their faces and some their bodies. Fans high five, chest bump and can't sit still. Their team colors are displayed in endless pieces of clothing and accessories. Even babies are dressed for game day. (They recruit them young!) If attending the game and in anticipation, they arrive early, watch their team warm up and start singing and keep on singing their team's fight song. The energy and the sound level are high. It's intense and electrifying.
During a college football game, there is no way you can be a passive observer. Eventually, you'll be drawn in by the passion and conviction of the fans. Before you know it, you'll be jumping up and down, screaming, giving high fives and singing the fight song. Oh, you'll pick sides alright. And, if you aren't careful, fans might win you over to the other side. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.
I'll never forget attending the Oklahoma vs. Tennessee game in Knoxville in 2015. I think they said that event set an all-time sound decimal record. We went to the game with Oklahoma fans and were seated in a sea of Tennessee orange and white. Me, I'm not so much into football, but I love the social aspect of being with my husband and friends. In other words, I go for the fun and not so much the football! But, this event was beyond fun. It was intense and electrifying. I jumped and screamed for OU and wished I had a big foam #1 finger.
The coaches and teams fought hard to win! The teams, bands, cheerleaders, and fans were all in! They shared the common goal: Victory! Bands played their fight songs over and over and over again.The cheerleaders and band kept rallying the fans, and in response, the fans sang louder, chanted more, swayed and fought hard to cheer their team on to victory.
Oh, did I mention that Tennessee played "Rocky Top" a bazillion times? The first few times, a yeah, alright, okay - we hear you kind of experience. A catchy tune but somewhat intimidating as it reminded us that we were in their territory. Then, it got irritating. Enough already. Of course, they didn't stop, so the song continued and continued to be played. At one point, we looked over to find one of our die-hard, season ticket OU fans standing in his seat singing Tennessee's "Rocky Top." What? How is this possible? I remember my husband and the others giving him a really hard time about it and yelling so he could hear them over the music. "What are you doing singing 'Rocky Top'? Get down." While he wasn't won over or converted into a Tennessee fan, he was caught up in the moment and drawn into the passion of the people in orange and white. What possible harm could there be in singing the opposing team's fight song? Uh...like I said, he was caught up in the moment and forgot himself.
College football is one of those places where being passionate and convicted is expected and acceptable. As obnoxious as it all can be at times, football fans show each other a lot of grace. I love it because their passion and conviction are very appealing and in many ways makes an appeal to me and to you to join in. Football fans love to invite people to come watch the game, hang out, bring and eat food. They recruit. Hanging out with them and it won't be long before you are wearing their team's colors, singing their fight song and filled with the same passion and conviction as those around you. Yep, they recruit young and they recruit hard!
In a way, football fans "contend earnestly" for their team! Their team is THE best. Even if their team is having a bad season, they are still the best. Team fans might talk among themselves about not being happy with the team, a player or coach performance. Sometimes they'll fight among themselves about such things. This is all normal and acceptable. But, if someone on another team starts talking negatively about their team, player or coach - watch out. It might not be a fight song that breaks out. Let me say it again. Football fans are a passionate and convicted group of folks.
Okay, so you know this preaches, right?
I started writing out the book of Jude this week. I've only written out the first 3 verses because I can't get past verse 3. It's grabbed my heart and mind. I've read the verses that follow, so I know where Jude is going with this, but still, I'm stuck in verse three. Let me share it with you and explain why. "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."
Contend earnestly for the faith. Jude feels it necessary to appeal to us to contend earnestly or fight with sincere and intense conviction for the faith (conviction of truth). And the picture I have painted above is what comes to my mind. It's time to put on our game faces, dress the part and get out our big foam finger that points to Jesus. With passion and conviction, we fight for our faith. When those on the front lines fight their way up the field, all stand to their feet, wave with all we have and cheer them on to victory. The preacher preaches, the choir sings, the band plays, and the faithful sway! Every inch of ground gained is a victory in Jesus. Sure, we get pushed back, fumble the ball, miss the kick and even get intercepted. But, we keep cheering, trying and believing. We keep contending for our faith. We sing fight songs! The chorus of one goes like this:
OH, VICTORY IN JESUS,
MY SAVIOUR FOREVER
HE SOUGHT ME
AND HE BOUGHT ME
WITH HIS REDEEMING BLOOD
And, if we see one of us standing in their seat getting drawn into the passion and conviction of the other side, what do we do? We contend earnestly for the faith. With passion and conviction and over the noise of the opposition, we yell "what are you doing"?
Okay, so when I think of contending earnestly, you know what visually comes to my mind. So, if you see me with a cross painted on my cheek, pom-poms in my hand or a big foam finger pointing toward Jesus and I'm singing about victory in Jesus, you'll show me some grace and remember I'm passionate about Jesus, my faith, and the truth! You can expect that I might dance a little jig, jump up out of my seat or shout, post, and tweet over and about truth. Oh, and I probably need to warn you, if I see you acting like you are getting caught up in the passion and conviction of the world and talking anything other than the truth, I will ask you "what are you doing?"