108,000 devotees all wore white, paid an average of $70/seat and embraced having to stay “overtime” to cheer and celebrate and fan the flame of a Nittany Lions victory over Michigan in Beaver Stadium in Pennsylvania on Saturday. It was a nailbiter. It not only went down to the wire, it went four overtimes over the wire. But no one left, not even ESPN, which was scheduled to air another game. All eyes were glued to the gridiron where unranked and scandal-beleaguered Penn State toppled 18th-ranked Michigan in a 4-OT thriller.
At the end of the game the Penn State coach literally dropped to one knee – exhausted. Both teams gave it their all, living sacrifices so to speak. And so did their fans. Even at our house, where no one attended either school, we were cheering and screaming and periodically on our feet. Our emotions rose and fell with each fumble, missed field goal and when the Nittany Lions went for it on fourth down in the fourth overtime, we held our breath.
The play clock ran out but no one checked their watch, furrowed their brow and scowled at the announcers. Nope, they not only stayed joyfully through four overtime periods, they remained to sing the school’s fight song with the team, helmets held high.
Just like church, right?
People sacrifice and cheer and spend their time and money on what they really love. And in America that’s entertainment. This time of year it’s college football, the NFL and the baseball World Series. When you watch the games, watch the fans. Consider how much time, money, energy and passion they are expending on something that does not lead to life, does not advance the Kingdom purposes of God and does not edify His people.
Then consider why people prefer sports and other entertainment to what passes for “worship” at your church.
Why do we not love God with the level of passion demonstrated for football?
Why do we not know the songs of the faith and sing them with the kind of fervor we sing our school fight songs?
Why are willing to invest many hours preparing for, getting to, tailgating at, attending and celebrating our favorite team but we are unwilling to give God more than an hour one day a week?
Why do we find a richer fellowship at a tailgate party than with people with whom we are going to spend eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven?
It’s not about the “White Out” theme, it’s not about the media hype, it’s not about the game being played, it’s about the love in the human heart that finds its passion in substitutes for the living God. It’s about idolatry, and we are all prone to it.
Whatever else you do today, confess to God that there are things in this world that you love more than Him. Your calendar, your checkbook and even your wardrobe betray you so there’s no sense in trying to hide it from the Lord. He knows where your heart is and He knows your loyalties are divided – the passion of our personal worship of lesser gods gives us all away.