Aliens In America

It's a sad time of year for me. Sure, the weather is getting warmer. Summer is just around the corner. Soon we will be going to the beach, Busch Gardens, Camp Idlewild (Woohoo!) and Tides games. And sure, the days have gotten longer, which means we can play outside with the kids after dinner. Everything is lush with color. When the wind blows, the leaves give off a green whisper instead of a brown crackle.

So why do I have this vague sense that something is missing? What's with this creeping sensation that something's not quite right? It's as if I should be looking for something that I've lost but I'm not even sure what it is.

And then I see the calendar and I remember. Football season is sooo far away. It ended back in February. But back then I could tell myself that there was the NFL draft to look forward to. That happened last weekend. College football is done with spring practice, and the scrimmages are over. We have now entered the football doldrums. I can now look forward to three more months of pigskinless weekends. And that's if I include the NFL preseason. We're actually four months away from "real" games. Oh well. I look at this way-at least I don't have to worry about missing SportsCenter. I mean, there aren't any other sports being played right now, right? (Can you tell I'm a little biased?)

Ok. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. I'm not as bad as I used to be. I think Rachel would tell you I watch a lot less football than I did before (back me up here, honey). And when my teams lose, it doesn't ruin my day like it used to.

This mania can all be explained by my Southern upbringing. In SEC country, football (particularly college football) just plain crosses the line into idolatry. I have actually heard of large numbers of people who didn't go to a close family member's wedding because it took place on the Saturday of the Auburn/Alabama game.

You have to see it to believe it. People so identify with their particular team, it's all they can think about. They live for their team. The success of their life is determined by the success of their team. It is a classic example of groupthink in action. During football season people stop being individuals and start being fans. I'm sure there are some fascinating Psychological studies that could be done on the power of identifying with a sports team.

This morning, we're going to continue looking at how Jesus changes lives. And we're going to be looking at how Jesus calls for pretty dramatic allegiance, as well. Jesus calls on us to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of Heaven. Paul says that, in Jesus, there are no Jews or Greeks, no males or females (Galatians 3:28). I would say there are no Vols or Gators, no Titans or Ravens. And where I'm from that's saying a lot.

What about you? What affiliations do you think are really important? Which ones are important to your identity? Are they sports related, political, or maybe even religious? Whatever they are, Jesus will call you to a different kind of allegiance. The Good News is that we're invited to identify with an infinitely greater arena.