Monopoly is a game. Taboo is a game. Fortnite, Exploding Kittens and Cobra Paw, though awkward sounding, are games. Football is a game, but depending on what level you’re at it’s more than just a game. Sitting around the table rolling dice, or shooting for teams on the blacktop don’t carry the same weight or meaning that are innate in competition involving careers and livelihoods. We need to realize that our entertainment doesn’t come at the expense of our faith, no matter how long you’ve been a fan. Here are four thoughts for fans to keep in mind:
1. The Image of God Deserves Respect (even if they lose)
It may be covered with jerseys, gloves, sneakers, or other apparel, but underneath every uniform is the imago dei, the image of God. From the beginning, God placed His image in every man and woman, believer or unbeliever, and loser or winner (Gen 1:27). Expressing your feelings about the season and game are understandable, and part what makes a season fun. When you begin to demean God’s chief creation with insults, memes, and arrogant coaching, you may have forgotten that God’s image deserves your respect whether or not you are entertained.
2. Wins & Losses Matter (more than bragging rights)
Two things to understand. If you are a die-hard fan, you are not more upset about the loss than the players or coaches. If you are a casual fan, you can probably show more compassion to the players and coaches. What I mean to say to the casual fans that interact with players and coaches is this, the people involved have invested their lives into these sports. Whether it be 15 years of their life in high school, or 31 years of their life professionally, there has been sacrifice, just as God's word implores us all (Eccl. 9:2). Don't say, “It’s just a game.” When you're passed over for a promotion, botch a presentation, or get overwhelmed with a workload, no one says, “It’s just a job.” When someone invests their time, sacrifices their body, and competes for the world to see, making light of their chosen pursuit trivializes their decision and lifestyle. You may not value the activity as much as the coach or athlete, but valuing the person manifests itself in seeking to empathize with their position instead of emphasizing yours (Rom. 12:15). Don’t cut off conversations before they begin by being condescending.
3. Be A Christian Fan
You have been bought with a price, died with Christ, and born again as a new creation. That doesn’t pause when your team plays. Our aim as Christians is to be pleasing to God whether we are eating nachos, drinking root beer, or painting our face (1 Cor. 10:31, 2 Cor. 5:9). There’s no switching tongues come game time. God expects clean a stream of words all the time, because that river comes from the spring of our hearts (James 3:9-12, Prov. 4:23, Lk. 6:45). Don’t let your faith in Christ bow down to the colors of your team.
4. Be A Christian Fan
With all that said, relish the seasons! God created this world for us to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). Inviting people over to watch the school you went to, cheer on your cousin, or fire up the grill with
is great fellowship. Talk about how long you’ve been with your team, tell stories of the years gone by and the championships to come, remind them how much better of a team you were and will be. Enlighten your friends on how good certain coaches or players are, and praise God when seeing His gifts displayed in top ten plays. If anyone knows how to fellowship it’s fans, and fans with the Lord as their banner should be undefeated.
Read and Pray Psalm 139:23-24: In what ways do sports tempt you to sin? Where do you carried away? What are you wanting in those moments?
Read Romans 13:14: What can you do to help prevent things that cause you to stumble? Think of three things you can do.
Pray personally, for the athletes and coaches you are about to watch. Make sure the prayer has nothing to do with performance or for the outcome of the game.