Faith and Football

Pre-season football is here!

I love football… I’m a big Giants fan. In fact, I just watched them whip the Jets the other night… Go Giants!

As much as I love football, there are others who love it far more than I do. You see these folks at the games all painted in their favorite team colors, yelling and screaming, week after week after week. These folks may know every bit of fact about every single player on the team going back to the 1960’s… now that’s love!

Amazingly, the love of football has actually negatively impacted the life of the church. Traditionally, Sunday has been the day set aside for all things faith-related: church services, small group gatherings, educational sessions, children and youth programs. Believe it or not… in the last decade or more… churches have thought twice (or cancelled altogether) Sunday afternoon activities during football season because a lot of folks are home watching the game.

I love football… and because it (pro ball anyway) is really only played on Sunday, I don’t have a problem with scaling back church activities during football season… but, there has got to be a trade-off.

Too many of us are in the habit of investing all of our time and energy and money into things that really only have entertainment value: spectator sports, movies & video games, clubs, social media, music… leaving no time or energy for the bigger purposes of life: faith, meaning, love, volunteering, health, and wellness.

One of the greatest prophets the world ever knew was Jeremiah. He prayed a prayer (found in the Book of Jeremiah 16:19-20) that went like this:

O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit. Can mortals make for themselves gods? Such are no gods!

So the trade-off is this: if the traditional view is ‘Sunday is church day… do what you want the other six days of the week’… let’s switch it up and say: ‘Sunday is football day (or clubbing day, or movie day)… do what you can to grow in faith and life and love the other six days of the week’.

Let’s not make gods out of entertainment.