It was quite a busy and exciting past week for football fans in Alabama. First, Jacksonville State University played for the FCS National Championship on Saturday. Even though they fell short against North Dakota State it was quite an experience for the JSU players, coaches (led by former Moody High head coach, John Grass), and fans. And then, of course, the FBS National Championship game on Monday night saw Alabama defeat Clemson.
I heard a story about a JSU fan who traveled to Texas for the JSU game against NDSU. When it became evident that Jacksonville State was going to lose the game, this particular fan began to tell the North Dakota fans that the "real" game wasn't until Monday night anyway ... obviously referencing the Alabama/Clemson game. I'm sure that comment drew many varied and perhaps colorful responses from the North Dakota State folks!
On that day, at that location, and in those people's minds the most important thing in the world was the JSU/NDSU football game. Did it pale in comparison to the bigger Alabama/Clemson game to be played a couple of days later? Maybe, in some people's minds, but in others absolutely not. Is there a larger portion of Americans who think a college football game of any sort can't hold a candle to the bigger, faster, more significant NFL games that culminate in the Super Bowl on February 7? And is there still a much greater population around the world who thinks American football at any level is essentially trivial compared to soccer (which is called "football" everywhere else in the world except the USA)? And, while we're making comparisons, does the majority of the population of world care football ... either the American version or what we call soccer? The answer is NO! But we are convinced that whatever is our preference on a particular day, in a particular place, while we're in a particular mood, depending on our particular financial situation, and as we're with a particular group of people, that this "preference" of ours is the "real" game/issue that outweighs any and every thing else. But that's rather delusional ... it's evidence that we ultimately prefer to live in our own little world rather than acknowledge we're merely a part of a much bigger world.
I realize I'm taking what was likely intended as humorous comment and making something much more of it. But even those silly, humorous statements of ours often reveal the deep recesses of our heart. We really do believe that our own preferences are far more important and valuable than the preferences of others.
The Gospel calls us to lay aside our preferences and find ultimate reality, truth, beauty, satisfaction, joy, contentment, life, fulfillment, pleasure, etc. in Christ alone. It's okay for me to passionately cheer for my team (music style, method of education, manner of dress, etc.) but it doesn't mean that my team (preference) becomes the ultimate measure of what is real and good and right.
Remember the guy in the original illustration. He didn't make his comment until his team was assured of losing. Perhaps we know that whatever it is we're obsessed with at the moment is going to ultimately fail us and we're forced to make defensive comments and take action to cling to something else that we perceive as "real." This is how we're wired ... and ultimately shows we're wired for the Gospel. Christ is the ultimate reality; Christ is the only ultimate satisfaction; only Christ guarantees ultimate victory; we'll constantly bounce around from one thing to the next until we find Christ. Today, stop making excuses for the failure of your preferences to satisfy you and cling to Christ. He's the "real" Savior we must have.