It’s that time of year again. That time where, in many households, weekends are reserved. Friday night is high school football, Saturday is college football, and Sunday is NFL football. That doesn’t even include Monday night and the currently popular Thursday night editions.
Football is big in this country, and it has been considered the most popular American sport for years. Often, it is just as popular in the church as it is in our communities. Many members of the church follow their local school teams, their favorite college teams, and their professional team of choice (or some combination of the three).
Someone may be wondering what in the world football has to do with Christianity and why they are appearing conjointly here. While the enjoyment of such sports is all well and good, and there is nothing wrong with the enjoyment of a good football game, we as Christians must be extra careful that we do not lose ourselves in our fanaticism.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that a person should not enjoy football (or some other sport). It is my favorite of them all and I am probably a bigger fan than most; knowing the teams, players, stats and the like. However, there must always be a line for the Christian that cannot be crossed. It is the line between dedication to a game and dedication to a Savior.
It is saddening to see members of the body of Christ who will not attend church functions during the season because their favorite team is playing. I have seen members come in 15 minutes late for services because the game went to overtime. Some congregations have changed their service times because of the scheduling of a game (the Super Bowl anyone?), and some brethren have refused to host others in their homes or have a Bible study because of a game. Somehow, one’s adherence to Jesus’ statement, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Mat. 6:33) does not ring true in such cases.
Nevertheless, the problem can go even deeper than that. I have seen brethren browbeat, belittle, and nearly come to blows because they root for rival teams. Some have, sometimes jokingly, sometimes not, called into question a brother’s intelligence or wisdom based upon which team they follow. Others have posted rude jokes and insults on social media at fans of another team, when they would never say such things to their brother or sister to their face.
As Christians, we are to, “love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Pet. 1:22); our speech is to always be seasoned with salt to be of benefit to another (Col. 4:6); and our hearts must always bear the love of God toward all men (1 John 4:11).
So, as we enter into this new season: root for your favorite teams, enjoy the company of friends and loved ones as you do, but always keep in the forefront of your mind who you are, who you serve, and what your primary responsibility is. For there is no game on the face of the earth that is worth a man’s soul.