In sports, everyone is a fan of something. Usually if you follow a sport much at all, you have one team that holds a special place in your heart. When they win, you rejoice. When the lose, you mourn. I’m not talking about fair-weather, or bandwagon fans…but a fan of a team who sticks with them in playoffs and trades. Anyone can cheer for a winning team – anyone can support the team that brings home the trophy. It’s fun, in fact, to be at an event where everyone around you is in the same jersey as you…and you get to brag about the win on your way out of the arena.
What about the teams that lose? What about the teams trailing behind in the standings? What about the teams that turn out to be the the punchline to every joke on SportsCenter? What’s it like to cheer for the losers? Especially when your team was good -and popular – and well respected for years, how does it feel when suddenly you’re the only fan for miles. As a native to Michigan and a Red Wings fan, I get this. We always made the playoffs until the past couple of years….and now when people learn I’m a Wings fan I get a pitiful “Awww.” They used to be such a dynasty.
There are times I feel like this with my faith. At times, and in certain circles, Christianity was welcomed, respected and sometimes loved. And at other times, it, too becomes the punchline to jokes. I recently was talking with a group of folks at work and they asked me what brought me to Long Island and I started to sweat as I told them quickly, “my husband’s job”. To which they replied (I dreaded it LOL) “oh, what does he do”. “He’s a pastor of a church”. Crickets, people….there were crickets. So I laughed and said, “Ha, you probably don’t hear that everyday,”. Someone thankfully quickly changed the conversation. I’ve also had people say, “He’s a WHAT?” As if I said he breeds salamanders in the attic or something. Then there are people who are positive. Some days it would be easier to say I’m a Red Wings fan than I’m actively involved in my church and go to church every Sunday.
Here’s the truth, sometimes it feels we are pulling for a team that nobody likes. When an opportunity comes up for a social event and we say “sorry, we’ll be late we have church” it feels like we’re wearing a Patriots jersey at a Jets game. Awkward! This shouldn’t be a surprise to us – Jesus says to us, in 1st century terms, “folks are going to think you’re nuts! This will not get you elected to Homecoming Court!” He is absolutely right, but……he did promise we would experience joy and hope. He promised he would never leave us, that he would provide for us, and that there is a plan for our life that (despite not making it to the first round of the playoffs) we will experience victory in this life.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11