Football, Guys, and God

When Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys back in the day, I watched the very first interview on TV and knew I had to get a new team. And also, like many, I was more than a little disgusted with the whole Tom Landry exit.

Now, I have never been a big sports nut, but I do enjoy me some NFL. I’ve always loved Nashville, really respected Jeff Fisher, thought it was cool that they had a sword in their logo (the whole Knight’s thing, you know), so I officially made the switch to the Tennessee Titans as “my team.” I had to answer a lot of questions over the next few years, especially when the Titans had a bad season, and the fact that I lived about 80 miles south of Dallas. My answer was always two-fold, “Well, first, I’m not a Jerry Jones fan and, two, I really enjoy following the Titans.” It’s not easy going against the grain, especially when the flow of the grain is known as “America’s Team.”

As most of you know, our family moved to Titans Land 4 months ago. Today, I drove by the towering open-air stadium there by the beautiful Cumberland River. Every sign of Jeff Fisher is gone. In fact, there is a HUGE, I mean HUGE, banner of Mike Munchak hanging on the outside of the stadium, facing downtown. It starts at the top of the stadium and ends a few feet from the ground. At least 8 stories high. Now, although I was a Jeff Fisher fan and even have an autographed football from him in my office, I am totally good with Mike Munchak. Seems like a great guy and a great coach. I’m sticking with my team. And Nashville made it abundantly clear. No words, no slogans, just here’s our new leader. Here’s what he looks like. He’s in charge now. Any questions? Good!

Here’s another thing I love about this town—winning or losing season, play-offs or no play-offs, every home game sells out. Every time. The fans are on board the bus—no matter what.

By now, you’re wondering what the point is, I’m sure. Well, here it is.

As spoiled Americans and avid sports fans, we are ultra-picky and super-wishy-washy. We voice our opinion of love and hate, hate and love, loudly and proudly when it comes to a team with any ball. One game is won—we love these guys. A game is lost—throw the bums out! Back and forth, we go.

As sinners and selfish men, we can sometimes get our sports and our God mixed up. There are going to be days when we just don’t understand what God is doing, when we think He’s let down on the job, when He doesn’t call the play we think He should have called. So we start looking for a new Head Coach. We start printing up a new banner for the stadium. We decide to “fire” God.

There are guys out there, maybe you know one, maybe it’s you, who have fired God. Jesus didn’t lead the team the way the guy thought a good Coach should, so it was all he could stands, he couldn’t stands no more, so the man took his ball and went home. One season of life—filled with the evidence of God, following Him with fervor and passion. The next season—strangely vacant of anything spiritual. Every sign of Jesus taken down. All roads lead to disillusionment . . . bitterness . . . emptiness. So, we look and ask the question: did he renounce God or was it never really there? Which life is the real one? The Jesus life or the self-life?

If you’re a man who has walked away from his faith, how’s that working for you? Is life really better ignoring God? Does it help taking on the world alone, so you only have yourself to go to when it blows up?

Or maybe you’re a man who is just playing the church game for the little woman or the business it gets you or just because your daddy did. You suit up on Sundays and attend the game, but you have zero intention of actually being a team player. How’s that feel when your head hits the pillow and the world rushes at you? How’s that feel when you look yourself in the eyes every morning in the mirror?

Or maybe you look okay to everyone right now, but you know you’re on the verge of firing God. You know in your heart if just one more thing screws up, you are so out of there. You might be public about it or you may just check out spiritually. You’re waiting and watching, like a fan that declares, “if he loses this last game and they don’t make it to the play-offs another year, I’m through!”

Unlike any pro sports franchise in history, God always wants you playing for Him, no matter how many times you quit, He will never quit on you. You can turn your back for years and decide to return, He is waiting on the field. Open arms. Same contract as before. Sins forgiven. Heart healed. New life—back on.

Beat-up and bloody, hurt and bitter men out there . . . we need you. Come back. Re-engage. Re-commit. Re-spond to the call of your God. Your brothers on the front lines won’t turn you away, but welcome you back into the huddle to take back your position.

But here’s the deal, whether you’ve never been in the huddle or you quit . . . God’s team is going to play on, with or without you, and we win in the end, by the way. So, come on, walk out of the bleachers, get off the bench. We got a season to win!

My brothers, if any of you should wander away from the truth and another should turn him back on to the right path, then the latter may be sure that in turning a man back from his wandering course he has rescued a soul from death, and his loving action will “cover a multitude of sins”. —James 5:19-20 (JBPNT)

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