Growing UP March 2012

Many times we idolize the world and not the One who created it.

Football and Faith

Alexis A. Goring

Football is perhaps the most popular and commercialized sport in America, to the point where specific commercials are created exclusively for the span of time during which the game is on. Enthusiastic fans possibly look forward to Super Bowl Sunday more than any other sporting event. It’s a time for gathering around the big screen TV with your family, friends, and other avid football fans, stuffing yourself with food, and cheering your favorite team on. Football is more than a sport; it’s a bonding experience.

A few months ago, I attended a Bible study for young adults at my church. Despite not being an avid sports fan, my interest was taken when someone compared packed football stadiums to church services. He made a parallel between football fans doing the “wave,” to parishioners swaying their arms in the air during praise and worship time.

This insightful young adult, Arthur*, really made me think when he asked, “Who are you really worshiping?”

Arthur brought out several key points as to why people who pack football stadiums are in fact engaging in a worship experience. They aren’t worshiping the Savior, but their favorite players. He further explained how spending thousands of dollars each football season on tickets displays loyalty toward a favorite team with equally passionate demonstrations of hatred toward the opposing team. While it’s not evil to be a football fan or like a certain musical artist, it can be dangerous when you become so infatuated that you’re led to be more than an adoring fan, and your actions reveal that in essence, you’re placing your faith in the created instead of the Creator.

A few years ago, I witnessed quite a scene outside of my church that turned out to be a classic case of this. I arrived at my church to see people waiting in a line that wrapped around the block, even flowing into the parking lot. A popular Christian artist was in town and they were anxiously waiting to be the first ones in the door.

When the doors finally opened, people quickly filed into the sanctuary, the front seats being filled first. Excited fans continued filling the seats on both the main level and balcony, until there was standing room only.

As soon as the lights went dim and the recording artist walked onto the stage, everyone applauded, and some screamed wildly. The artist greeted their adoring fans, the music began, and the audience was captivated with the performance.

Some time later, the pastor of my church stirred our conscious when he spoke about the success of the concert for which people had flocked to in attendance. He drew a significant parallel asking us why people would flock to a Christian concert, but not to church. It was a fact that was worth analyzing, and it made me wonder—we as humans are made to worship, but it’s what and who we worship that makes all the difference.

Many times we idolize the world and not the One who created it. How many of us would “die” to get a backstage pass to meet your favorite musician at a concert? How many of us would work a part-time job just to get season passes to your favorite team? How many people do you know who simply can’t live without owning a Coach purse or an imported car? There is even a danger in worshiping your favorite Christian/gospel/religious music artist, as you can find yourself worshiping the tune, beat, or artist, instead of appreciating the message from the Messenger—the Inspiration who gave them their talent.

All things considered, how do we make it through this life without “worshiping” things other than God? It’s a question to ponder, pray about, and answer on your own terms. While you’re wrestling with what it means to worship God, not things, check out the greatest resource known to mankind—The Holy Bible.

“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3, NIV). To me this verse means anything I put before God: Facebook, e-mail, music, friends, etc., has become a “god” in my life, and it’s time for me to reprioritize.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exod. 20:4–6, NIV). My interpretation of this is God is jealous not against us, but for us, because He created us and He doesn’t want our loyalty to go to any other god or idol here on earth. Also, God doesn’t want us to make a tangible image of Him because He is not a “thing.”

We are to worship the Creator God in spirit and in truth. The Bible says, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24, NIV).
*The name Arthur is a pseudonym.