Southern Religion (Football)

It’s that time of year again, ladies and gentlemen! Football has graced us with its phoenix-like rebirth from the ashes of summer, and it did not disappoint. There were upsets and triumphant returns, former juggernauts seemed weak, while whipping boys showed they had grown stronger, and a grand time was had by all. Well, most had a good time. Someone had to lose after all.

When you think of the South, football is synonymous with life. We eat, sleep, and breathe it. During the offseason, we talk about previous games and hope next year is even better. Once the season begins, we find out if our dreams will come true or turn to nightmares before our eyes. 

The Yankees play football, and some are passionate about it, but not to the extent that we are. Out west, it is merely a social gathering. But, as some are wont to say, “Football is religion down here.”

“Football is religion down here.” I have never felt right about this. It is very important to the majority of Southerners, but I do not look at it as seriously as a religion. I have a religion: Christianity. I worship my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I try to mold my life around His and His teachings. 

Now, football is extremely important to me, but not more important than my immortal soul. Christ is the only way that I can get into Heaven. Nick Saban can’t help me. Neither can (dare I say) Bear Bryant. *GASP* I’m sure at least one of you just gasped because SEC fans, even if you don’t like Alabama, respect Coach Bryant as one of the greatest who ever lived. He was a good man, but he should not be worshiped. Nor should General Neyland, Shug Jordan, or Steve Spurrier. 

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that football should not be enjoyed. I am not saying that football is evil. I am not saying that it is wrong to talk about football to your friends and family. What I am saying is that we should remember who is the way, truth, and life. 

What if we talked about Christ as much or as fervently as we discuss football? What if there were as many discussion boards and threads about right living as there are about recruiting? What would life be like?

People have shown that they are willing to fight, die, and even kill others for their favorite team. People have destroyed private property, vandalized houses and cars, and even poisoned trees over this game. That, my friends, is the definition of passion. Webster defines it as “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something” and gives synonyms as zeal, vigor, and obsession. Could we have these same feelings about God?

Again, I am not promoting killing or beating others over differing opinions on Christianity. Christ did not preach violence, but why can we not be as on fire for God as we are for a group of young men playing with pigskin?

I admit that I am guilty of this and am in need of revival in my own life; however, I am not alone. Ask yourselves: Am I a bigger Vol or Gator fan than I am a Christian?

Notice that I did not say “fan of Jesus”. Christ does not want nor does He need fans. Fans are fickle, to which any Titans player or coach can attest. Fans are on fire one day and disappointed the next, screaming for a change in leadership, wanting the team to be run their way. Jesus wants us to be followers and disciples.

A disciple is not just a supporter; a disciple is devoted to the teachings of his or her leader. Disciples are not easily swayed. Disciples are not fickle. Disciples welcome suffering and hard times as testaments to the glory of God. Fans desert at the first sign of loss. Fans try to change the leadership into what they think is right. Disciples know that their leader is the only one who knows what is best.

 So, are you a disciple of Christ, or just a fan? Can you love God with the same passion as you do your favorite football team? It basically boils down to the question George Thorogood once asked: “Who do you love?”

Peace. Love. Roll Tide.

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