Death is tragic. Yet, even though we see it constantly, we are unfazed by it. For instance road kill. How often do we see animals that have been run over, yet feel no sadness for the death of this animal. My friend Casey and I have decided to do something about it...
In the last couple of weeks, the football season began. What's interesting about football, is that in the American sports world, the football season is King. All other sports take a backseat to this behemoth. Not only is the NFL the #1 sporting event but college football is #2. Here is why:
Football is violent: Our culture is just that. We LOVE violence. Its part of our DNA...literally, we stood up and violently forced ourselves to be free. If you watch our movies, look at the TV, observe our crime statistics you'll see we're pretty violent. So it makes sense that we'd LOVE a game as violent as this.
Football is hype: Football games happen once a week. [usually Thursdays-Mondays] and so we have ususally a whole week to get excited for a game. ESPN has made a living hyping "this weekend's game" By gametime, you're convinced that this is the most important game in the history of games. You know the biggest match-up, the X-factor, and the favorite. Our country is built on marketing...which is basicall hype. We are always looking for the new cool thing, the next fresh bit, or the next big hit. So it makes sense that we - every week - buy into the hype.
Football is fast action: If you ever watch TV with a critical eye, you'll notice that each camera shot lasts less than 5 seconds. Its amazing how often the shots are flipping; yet we don't notice it. This is why when you watch an older show, it feels like its dragging on and on...its that your eye is accustomed to quick, fast scenes. It makes sense that we would be attracted to a sport whose plays average 7 seconds.
Football fits on TV: Football is a game played on a square field and each field has lines every 5 yards. Most of the action happens in a very small space on that field. AND there are pauses in the game which allow for a quick look at a replay of what has happened. In fact the NFL has a blackout policy for any team that does not sell out its stadium because it is actually a better option to watch the game on TV verses in person.
I have this picture on the wall behind the desk in my office. It is a picture of Wriggley Field in the fall of 1945. If you look closely, you can see that it says National League Champions. Now if you know anything about the history of the Chicago Cubs, you'll know that this was the last time that they went to the World Series. It, for me, represents a bygone era.
In 1945, the biggest show in the world was baseball. Our best athletes played basketball. The biggest and brightest lights of the 1930's, 40's, & 50's were in the ball parks and stadiums of baseball. All the other sports looked up to our national pass-time.
While baseball was easily the biggest show in town, those days are long gone. It is still very popular and it still holds a place near and dear to many hearts in our country, but it no longer is a our national pass-time. It is not fast paced. It does not translate onto TV. It is not violent. AND its season drags on and on and on over 6 month [+ 3 rounds of playoffs]. It appears in all the ways that football fits in with American culture, baseball does not.
For people who grew up in the 50's and 60's [and earlier], baseball is still very popular, but for those who grew up in the 80's & 90's football is the #1 interest. This shift in sports is interesting to me because it reveals that culture is shifting and changing. For those in ministry positions, this is a clue that there is a shift in the world around us; that things need to change.
Interestingly enough Willow Creek [perhaps the most influential church in the Western world], the church who started the "Contempory Church" no longer follows that model. Apparently, things have changed since 1975. Perhaps we should follow their lead. What was good and cool back in the day [perhaps even last year] might not be good and cool anymore. Perhaps we need to lick our finger and hold it up in the air to test how the winds have changed...
The biggest question I am constantly asking is how I, a Christian, should respond to “this” situation or “that” situation. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about here are a couple of example:
Last summer I purchased a couch from American Freight [YES THAT AMERICAN FREIGHT!]. Now I’m a pastor and a $500 is a big deal to our budget, so when 3 months had gone by and we didn’t have a couch, and American Freight wouldn’t refund us our money…I kept having to ask myself, “How should I respond to this?” -- I keep seeing all these little signs around my town. They’re black with a red snake on them and say, “Don’t Tread on Me.” Upon further review, it’s the local New Carlisle Tea Party advertising their local meeting times. When I hear people tell me that gov’t is the solution to our problems [because that’s what the Tea Party is saying…they’re just saying that a smaller gov’t is the solution to our problems] I keep asking myself, “How should I respond to this?” -- Our church purchased 100 chairs this summer at $50 a chair…do the math. We were told they would get here by the end of August. Well its nearing the end of September now and we still don’t have those pesky chairs yet. So while trying to get those chairs here I’m having to ask myself the question, “How should we respond to this?” -- This happens to me all the time. I’m doing something where people don’t know I’m a pastor. And somebody drops an off color remark in my presence. [This happened yesterday!] I often ask myself, “How should I respond to this?” -- You know what I’m talking about. This is life. Somebody fails you. You are working in business. You have children. You have friends. The question is how, as Christians, should we respond to this? This is the graying of life, this is where we live.
If you find yourself constantly asking those questions, you’re in a good place. If you’re searching for the answers, God will meet you there. If you listen God can and will provide a way for you; he can show you how you should respond.
The place you don’t want to be is where you are not asking any questions; where you are just going without questioning yourself, where you are mindlessly supporting one political group, where you are reacting to set-backs in life without prayer, where you are saying what first comes to your mind when somebody says something that offends you. This is a place where I think its best to, as a Christian, avoid.
So may you always be asking yourself what it means to be a Christian. May you always be questioning your loyalties and your actions. And may you walk in the knowledge that God will show you the right way to live.