“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21
“You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.” 1 Corinthians 12:2
I have a touchy subject that I am honestly a little reluctant to bring up. However, because football season just ended, it might go over better. My husband has a theory that football (or any sport really) has replaced warring villages. I say that only half kidding. It is no longer socially appropriate (?) to attack the town over from you when you have disagreements. However! It is completely socially acceptable to war through your chosen sports teams. Us vs. Them.
I know people who will not wear or own a color in actual clothes that another team has in their uniform. You do not dare buy them a maroon shirt, an orange scarf, or red bag. We paint our faces, our bodies (sound a little Braveheart-like to you) and we deck ourselves and our cars in team branded Paraphernalia. We have make believe fantasy teams that play other make believe fantasy teams and sometimes money is placed on the fantasy teams’ wins. We stop and heckle strangers on the street if they are supporting an opposing team.
Why is our faith compartmentalized to church and certain friends? Even with those certain friends we are careful not to talk about Jesus too much for fear of being labeled as having Hyper-Religiosity.
Married couples fight and families are warned not to buy cute team specific outfits for the children of these divided houses. People schedule their children’s birthday parties around football because people will not go if it is on a Saturday during football season. That is dedication. That is loyalty. These loyal and dedicated fans are not embarrassed of how they look to others especially the opposition. They wear their face paint, jerseys, hair bows, earnings, purses, etc with pride. They argue with others freely when it comes to their brand. Their love and pride in their team has no boundaries. They do not just talk about and wear their team identification in one designated area such as at a game. No, it overflows into every area of their life with gusto.
Even if the fan is not a fanatic and just wears a team t-shirt or hat and puts flags on their cars. This is normal and accepted and expected social behaviors. Yet, if you saw a person wearing a “Goooooo Jesus” t- shirt with a flag on each side of their car saying the same, people would be freaked out. They would most likely be viewed as a Jesus Freak. Now add Jesus face paint, face tattoos,hats, earnings, purses, socks, bows, cups, and things are going to get a lil’ weird. Now, imagine heckling strangers about their Nike shirt being ungodly and you have a real problem. Go tell someone you are going to stay home all day Saturday and miss your grandchild’s birthday party to watch sermons on TV. Imagine for a moment the reactions you would get.
We are designed to worship something and that the world is willing to provide us with ample false religion to fulfill that design with anything other than God.
In the true spirit of Mindfulness let us not judge this topic as good or bad. Just think about why. There is nothing wrong about enjoying sports or having a favorite team. The question is why do we have no problem with being a die hard fan but embarrassed to be the same way about Jesus? Why does a Jesus conversation get a little bit awkward outside of church? Why is our faith compartmentalized to church and certain friends? Even with those certain friends we are careful not to talk about Jesus too much for fear of being labeled as having Hyper-Religiosity. The question is not whether the sports fan’s devotion, love and loyalty is wrong but why is it there? Why is it acceptable to show and have extreme devotion to a benign sports team but not Jesus?
Since we all have a God-shaped vacuum in our souls, could our intense love, dedication and loyalty to something like sports be our attempt to fill that vacuum? We are designed to worship something and that the world is willing to provide us with ample false religion to fulfill that design with anything other than God. If you do not feel that sports can fit into the narrative as acting as a false religion then you should quickly remember that it is our culture that states football now owns Sunday and that our country worships on this day not in a temple but a stadium. Now, in ending I wish to be clear that I do not believe that sports or entertainment are evil. However, the elevation or dedication to anything over the Lord is idolatry.
May your path be lit.
Heather has a B.S. in Psychology and is a certified Life Coach. She enjoys spending borderline unhealthy amounts of time with her husband and daughter, pondering God’s mysteries, movies, travel and may have a debilitating addiction to books and hot baths.