“If only people put as much passion in their faith as they do for a sports team, this world would be changed. However, I stand guilty too.”
I put this statement on my FB & Twitter pages this morning, knowing full well that I was opening up the door for verbal abuse denying this statement or finger pointing at me. I live in the Chicago suburbs, and after this week of sports talk and trash, my heart breaks for my area, for my country, and for this world. All that has been talked about this week in our area is Bears, Bears, Bears. I love sports. I truly enjoy watching a good sports match, by myself and with friends, and just relaxing in the moment of the game. I see nothing wrong with having hobbies and activities that fill our days, but when they become the center of our lives, and we rearrange our lives for a team or sport, we have stepped far into the realms of idolatry.
If people that profess to be Christ followers truly put as much time into their faith lives, and read their Bibles, worshiped and prayed, this world would be turned upside down for Christ. I have no doubt in my mind about that. What if instead of getting upset that our team missed the game winning FG, we got upset when someone denies Christ when we share Him with them, and we are so upset that we retreat to constant prayer for that person to know the Lord? What if instead of sulking for days after our team loses, we hurt so much when family and friends around us die without knowing Christ that it drives us to never stop sharing Christ with people throughout our days? What if our passions were reversed and Christ was the center of our universe and a sports team was just a hobby on the side if there was time for it? What if?
I ask these questions not as finger pointing, but out of honest guilt in my passions too. For years, I have dropped everything for sports. Rearranged my life for one game, one play, one insignificant moment. My hope is that in 2011, I start putting Christ at the center of my life in EVERY aspect. Not just church, family, friends, but sports, television, music, etc. Everything. Last weekend, I won two playoff tickets to the Bears/Seahawks game. I knew that I had a commitment on Sunday morning at my church, and we also had a prayer service scheduled for the evening. It would have been easy to skip out on my commitment to my church. It happens all the time to them, why would this be any different? I sat writing an email back declining the tickets due to a prior engagement. I was grateful for the opportunity, but I knew the real opportunity to service my church, and pray for my community was far greater than any game’s outcome. The night of prayer with many of my brothers and sisters was incredible, and I’m glad that I made a mature decision to focus on Christ. My hope is that one day I get to the point where I don’t even have to stop and think about that. That is my hope for all of us. That we truly take Exodus 20:3 to heart this year and for the rest of our lives: “You shall have no other gods before me.”