CLERGY CORNER: Get on the field…

Posted on 17 January 2019 by LeslieM

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.Matthew 16:24-25 NRSV

The college football championship is behind us. We are in the midst of NFL playoffs and in a few weeks the Super Bowl will be watched by millions. Even people who do not regularly watch football will be watching the Super Bowl.

Fanfare is a multi-billion dollar business. People spend a lot of time and money following their team. And, I must admit, I am a fan as well. There is something that does get under my skin. I know it is small and seemingly insignificant. When a fan uses the word “we” when she or he is talking about their favorite team.

Let me give you an example. I will use my favorite team as an example. I see a person wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey on a Sunday afternoon. I ask: “Who are the Vikings playing?” She answered: “We are playing the Packers.”

Clearly, I knew what she meant and I am certain that she wouldn’t appreciate a reaction like this: “I didn’t know you played for the Vikings. I just thought you were a fan.”

I say this because there is a big difference between someone who puts on a jersey to watch a football game and someone who puts on a jersey to play the game. I can say that fanfare is painless and football is painful but fans would be inclined to say: “That interception was painful.” I can assure you, the one who threw the interception was in much more pain.

Sports can serve as a great metaphor. Jesus calls us to discipleship and discipleship is much more than fanfare. A fan stays in the comfortable stadium seats or an armchair in the living room in front of a big screen TV. The player is on the field enduring a lot of abuse. We are not called to the bleachers; we are called to the field. Discipleship is not a “spectator sport.”

Churches have a tendency of measuring their success based upon fanfare. How successful is your ministry? “I will take a head count and let you know.”

I challenged a congregation I once served: “Do you want to ride the bandwagon or build it?” Fans come and fans go. Loyalties wax and wane. Fans jump from bandwagon to bandwagon.

Discipleship is hard work. But when I consider the love that God has for his people and when I consider the price God was willing to pay for me, discipleship is the most appropriate response.

Enjoy the end of the season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Before you comment on the person on the field, consider his commitment and consider the pain he endures. We are called to something greater than fanfare and, here is the good news. When we endure the battle we will emerge as champions.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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