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The golden calf of fall

Bill Renje

Bill Renje

This is the best time of the year for a lot of us who have the pleasure of living in the South. We’ve made it through the worst of the summer heat and the beauty of the crisp, Georgia fall will soon be upon us. But even more so for us football fans, the dog days of the sports calendar are behind us.

Nothing says fall more than Friday night lights, Saturday tailgates and Sunday afternoons glued to the television. But as Christians we need to be careful and guard our hearts in pursuing what’s truly important.

While there’s nothing wrong with rooting for our team, I’m saddened that too many of us have created false idols when it comes to our favorite teams. While we no longer worship Old Testament idols, we’ve created modern gods in the shape of high school, college and professional teams as well as players.

We’ve exchanged the passion and pursuit of the living God for the fanaticism of obsessively following our little gods.

I’ve been passionately following sports for 35 years and myself have struggled with obsessing over things that really don’t matter. But I’ve come to realize with age and maturity that the agony of defeat or the glory of victory is temporary and meaningless in the big picture.

As someone active in sports ministry, I’ve learned the true, lasting values of sports are linked with spiritual values of learning from defeat, winning with dignity while developing integrity, teamwork, character, perseverance and, most of all, honoring the Lord by recognizing Him in maximizing the talent he’s given you.

Sure, many of us sports fanatics still sit in the pews every Sunday morning. It’s not like we take football season off. But I’m saddened with how anemic Christianity has become in this culture.

What kind of impact could Christians have in this nation if we were as impassioned about being Jesus to people as we are inflamed in our sporting lusts?

We all need to step back and appraise what we truly value. Do we get more excited for Friday nights, Saturday evenings, Sunday afternoons or Sunday mornings?

Are we more intimate and talk more about our team than Jesus? Do we spend more time obsessing over social media and talk radio than we do with Jesus? Does the pain from your team’s loss matter more than lost souls?

Bill is the campus ministry director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes in South Metro Atlanta. He and his wife Amy live in Locust Grove with their three children and attend Eagles Landing FBC. Follow Bill on Twitter @billrenje and visit his website, www.achosenbullet.com, to learn more about him.