FENTON, MI – I have noticed that in our nation and in our state in particular, that competitive sports play an integral part in our lives and loves. This year’s season of football will soon be ending but not the ongoing talk, reruns, debates and controversies. With 24 hour a day sports broadcasting, it never ends. One can be entertained by and involved in football 365 days a year.
There is another sport among us that takes on those same characteristics. It’s not basketball, baseball, hockey, volleyball or any other sport that requires some sort of ball or object to be bounced, kicked, passed, hit, or caught. This sport requires an unbelievable amount of stamina, agility, finesse, concentration, skill, focus, determination and a pile of thick skin and intestinal fortitude. This sport can be brutal at times and in other instances, extremely fulfilling. I’ve seen the players and spectators alike, cry like babies and then in a matter of moments jump, shout, cheer and make a complete fool of themselves in expressing their joy and admiration for those in the field of play.
One of the unusual quirks about this particular sport is that the players don’t normally wear uniforms, but the spectators and pep squads do. It is not unusual to see fans wearing their team’s colors, caps and T-shirts at any time or any place. Some carry placards and will stand in public places proclaiming the superiority of their preferred combatant. I have seen many decorate their homes and vehicles to express one’s allegiance.
As game day approaches, the cheers and chants for the key players can be heard in all places, formats and by almost anyone. Obsession would be a good word to describe those involved. Possession, as in demonic, is possibly applicable to some, and everyone gets involved. Toddlers to Grandmothers all have a part. New born babies adorned with team colors and players names can be found on social media quite readily. Almost no one is uninvolved or untouched by this sport in some way.
But the biggest concern I have about this particular sporting event is the high rate of injury that occurs among the players and especially among the spectators. That’s right the spectators. Of course, we have all heard how that some rugby and soccer games in Europe have resulted in the severe bodily injury to fans. Well, this sport does far more damage than has been caused by those riotous fans of foreign fields. Those kinds of injuries usually heal within a matter of weeks or a few months, but the injuries and the damage caused by this sport can last for a lifetime.
These injuries can cause love to be lost, families to be destroyed and entire communities ripped apart. Marriages have failed and lifetime friends have ceased to speak to one another. Respect has been trashed and characters have been assassinated just so someone could win. The broken souls and crushed hearts that are the result of previous games still litter the streets, roads and woodlands of our towns, cities and states. Some people are forced to move to a different geographic location in order to try to heal the deep gaping wounds they have received. Others carry the competition of the game back to their homes and neighborhoods, only to create division, animosity and anger.
It amazes me that some individuals and groups can’t seem to keep it in perspective. This is a game. It won’t last forever. Seasons come and go but people and relationships last. The key players will come and go, and most will not even recall their names a few years later.
Politics! The bloodiest sport of all.
Some will win and others loose. One crowd will cheer while the other will cry. Is the outcome of the game important? Yes! Absolutely. But people, relationships, character, reputations and treating others with dignity and respect is far more important.
One day we will stand before the Father and He will not be the least bit concerned with how you voted, but I can guarantee that how you treated your fellow man on this earth will be of keen interest to Him. I have said on many occasions that politics should not and cannot direct or determine our Biblical and Doctrinal convictions, but that our Biblical and Doctrinal convictions should direct and determine our politics. There cannot be some dialectic and duplicitous life concerning Christianity and politics. Worldly governments will come and go, but the Government of God will not!
When we get to heaven all the games will be over. Time will have run out, and there will be no overtimes, no chances to run again, no instant replays or recounts. Winning will be of no consequence, but how you played will be judged and will affect your eternity. Politics! What a game.
Play by the rules. (HIS RULES!)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.