I didn’t get my usual post out on Wednesday (have you noticed I’ve attempted to blog every Monday and Wednesday for Grace Community Church?) because I was heading out of town. The fiance and I went to a NFL football game with my grandma! (Yes, she’s that legit.) While football games have nothing explicitly to do with church, I did compare the two.
I know I’m not the first to point out connections between football and church, but I’m the first for Grace Community so here we go!
One thing simply amazing at the game was just the sheer size of the CROWD. Bank of America Stadium (Yes, home the Carolina Panthers. We did go to that disappointing Panthers vs. Giants game, let’s just not talk about it, ok?) seats well over 70,000 people. All of which, of course, paid big money to warm those seats. Can you imagine that many people, united together for one purpose? What an effective force.
Another element about the game that struck me was the habitual behavior. No fan needed to be prompted to begin the “DE-FENSE” chant. No one was encouraged to clap along with “We Will Rock You.” Everyone just participated. No inhibitions. No shame. Football fanatics sporadically broke out in – dare I say – worship at the deeds of their field heroes.
Speaking of heroes, that godlike recognition of the greats was also striking. Though there was only one Eli Manning jersey on the field, I’m sure there were 20,000 “Eli Mannings” scattered in the stands. People were happy to be branded, to identify with their favorite players. Jerseys aren’t cheap, but people readily drop that kind of money to support the mission of their sport icon.
And money! The amount of cash that flows at a football game, or any sporting event for that matter, baffles me. If McDonald’s charged $6 for a soda pop, you’d walk away in a heartbeat. But with the NFL? People happily pay $6 for a beverage. They gobble up $10 pizzas. They pay even more for memorabilia. The offering of time and money is astounding.
Have you caught a theme in the words I’ve been using? “Worship”, “mission”, and “offering”? I know you’re not ignorant. Yeah, that’s church language. For a sport that has no religious connotation, there certainly is a lot of religious-type activity going on. For an American culture that doesn’t seem to know how to worship God, we sure do seem to know how to worship football. We know how to worship baseball, celebrities, our careers, and even ourselves.
Imagine if churches were attended in those numbers. Imagine if churches were full of enthusiastic participants. Imagine if those full churches with those enthusiastic participants were generously giving their time and money to advance the mission of its hero. This kind of radical transformation can only occur if peoples’ hearts are transformed by God the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for hearts to be changed so dramatically. Pray for God to work here in Berea, Kentucky. Pray for God to work in the United States. Pray for God to work across the world. May churches hold up Christ so that all people will be drawn to His name. Anticipate the day when our eternal celebration of Jesus Christ will put NFL football games to shame.