Sunday, January 3, 2016
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" — (Romans 15:5-6)
I stayed up very late last night so that I could keep up with the Arkansas Razorback football team as it played in the Liberty Bowl (midnight to three A.M. here). I couldn’t see the game, but could watch the statistics in real time on the internet on a little football field map. If there was a score, they would show a poor quality video of the the score, but I could sure see those shiny helmets. There were tens of thousands of Hog supporters in the stadium and they were there for one purpose—to root for the Razorbacks. They didn’t care if the person sitting next to them was a Democrat or a Republican, a Catholic or a Muslim, Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, in favor of gun control or against it, they were united by their love and support of the football team playing on the field (and they played well, didn’t they?). In the scripture above from Romans, the Apostle Paul is praying that God will give us a spirit of unity so that we may glorify God and Christ Jesus. We can have a spirit of unity. I see it, I feel it. When Karen and I first moved to Arkansas from Los Angeles in 1981, we decided to go to a game there in Fayetteville. I had student tickets which were cheap, so even though we had only gone to three professional games in L.A. in eleven years (it was the Rams, then) and no college games, we thought we’d give the college experience a try. We were not ready for people with faces painted red and white, for the long lines of RV’s also painted red and white, and we certainly were not ready for Hog Hats. We knew this was going to be something. It was October and a little chilly. Arkansas was still part of the Southwest Conference and we were playing the University of Texas, ranked number one in the nation at the time. We watched the Hogs humiliate the Horns 42-11 and then watched as Fayetteville went crazy. We decided we liked college football and have been Hog fans ever since. We went to many games and were amazed at how friendly everyone was and how united in their support of their team. What I want to know is how can we be so united in our support of a football team whose wins or losses changes nothing in our society? It doesn’t feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for sick, the widows, and the orphans, but we are as one in support of the team. I love the feeling that I got at every game, win or lose, because we were all there because of our love and support of some young men playing football. Why can’t we do the same for the those that Christ has called us to support, to feed, to clothe, to tend, to visit, to welcome, to offer the ultimate victory—not the National Championship—but the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting? Surely we can love one another as Christ loved us for those who need our love and support. I know we can do it for football teams, can we not also do it for the children that God created and entrusted to us? I was elated by the victory last night and loved to watch Collins run. How much more elated would Christ be, if we could just unite behind Him and actually bring Peace, Goodwill to all people? I know we can do it, I’ve seen it. It’s just harder, but when has harder ever stopped Christians intent on following Christ? Maybe we just all need those shiny helmets I love so much. Just sayin’.