Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Divided We Fall


I have a love/hate relationship with sports. I love watching an athletic event where anything can happen. I love come from behind victories and underdogs who find someway to win. What I do not like about sports is the mentality often associated with it. Sports fans can be some of the rudest ugliest people on this planet. On rare occasions some have even resorted to violence when they feel like the honor of their team has been called into question. Sports have even become an idol to some. There are people who never grace the doors of a church building, but are regulars at the stadium. They offer up sacrifices of beef, pork, and chicken on the grill while adorned in the bright colors of their favorite team. I love sports, but sometimes I wonder if it is worth it all.

There is usually a moment or two a year when I really question my own devotion to my favorite teams, and contemplate giving it all up. Saturday was one of those moments. My alma mater was playing their arch rival in a game that has become known as bedlam. If you look up bedlam in the dictionary this should tell you all you need to know about the typical behavior associated with this game. Saturday was no exception. The game was close the entire time. Neither team was able to lead by more than two scores. With less than two minutes left my team, Oklahoma State University, took the lead. The opposing team, Oklahoma University, had little time to comeback and score. They gave it their all. They marched down the field, and one point almost gave it away when their quarterback threw it right to an opposing player. It was ruled an incomplete catch and the game continued. With seconds left OU found the endzone and began to celebrate, as any team naturally would. A couple of players taunted some fans and a few fans threw snowballs onto the field. Again, this is bedlam. OU won the game. It was a hard loss, but it is only a game. It does not matter in the grand scheme of things.

Later that day I hopped on Facebook for a few minutes expecting to see my many OU friends celebrating and enjoying their victory. A few fans were, but many of them were running down OSU for throwing snow on the field. I will be the first to admit that this was a classless act that should have never happened, but several people who posted about this had no concern about whether it was proper football etiquette or not. They were simply posting about it in order to run down the other team. Instead of enjoying their win they chose to spend their time bashing the other team. How do I know? Because their posts included derogatory comments about OSU. To be fair, a couple of my OU friends, Tyler Brassfield and Ben Williams, posted about this incident in a fair and classy way. I appreciate how they handled the situation. Their main concern was to point out improper behavior by a few fans, not to run down an entire program.

I hope you are still with me because the purpose of this post is not to go on a rant about what a few people did on Facebook. I think there are bigger issues at hand here. Why does a person watch football, or any other sport? I watch because I attended OSU and I love my alma mater. I enjoy seeing them succeed and do well, but I will be a fan no matter what because I have a special tie to the school. This is why I watch, but there could be other reasons to watch as well. For instance, I am a Boston Red Sox fan. I have never lived in Massachusetts, nor have I ever visited Fenway, although I hope to one day. I simply like the Red Sox. Watching them brings me pleasure. I think watching to win is a perfectly good reason to watch sports. Enjoy the game. Root on your favorite team. This is sports at its best, but sadly some people have began to watch sports to see teams lose. It is not enough to see their team win. Now some people watch sports just to see another team bite the dust. They derive enjoyment out of another team’s demise. In worst case scenarios some fans will even wish for a player to get injured, or for a scandal to cause damage to a team’s reputation. This is unchristian behavior and if it goes unchecked it could lead to bigger problems.

This behavior goes beyond sports. It is seen in multiple areas of life. Humanity enjoys choosing sides and then demonizing others. We do it all the time. Our country is better than yours. Our race is superior to your race. Our political party is right and yours is wrong. Our church is better than your church. We like to divide ourselves up and attack the other side. It is not about being the best we can be. It becomes about tearing the opposing side down. We become focused on destroying others. We begin to think they are less than human. We forget that every human being has been created in the image of God. We throw out the golden rule. We want blood and we want it now. It doesn’t matter whether it is sports, politics, race, religion, or some other category we can dream up. For some reason we have a natural tendency to divide and tear others apart.

Long before Lincoln pointed out the problems with division Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:25). Division does not originate with God, it comes from Satan. Satan literally means “the accuser” and this is exactly what he wants us to do. He wants us to choose sides and accuse others. He wants to see us take pleasure in the demise of another team, country, person, etc. I refuse to go along with Satan and his schemes. I will take pride in winning and doing good, but I refuse to take pride in another person’s failure. I will not wish another human being, created in the image of God, ill will. I choose to follow Jesus and treat others the way I would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12).

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