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I was born and raised in Opelika, AL, just a few minutes from Auburn University, and today was the first time I have ever attended a AU football game.  I woke up this morning, thinking it would be another normal Saturday, then I was offered two free tickets to Auburn’s homecoming game today.  Now, normally I would say “no” to something like this, because I’m not really a big football fan, but today I had nothing to lose.  I took a chance and said yes.

AU Football Game

I don’t think I have ever been to a sporting event with that many people.  It was like a tidalwave of orange had burst into Jordan Hare Stadium, and I found myself intrigued and disgusted all at the same time.  As I looked around a grown men waving orange and blue pom-poms, I couldn’t help but think about God (leave it to me to get all philosophical at a football game).

In the South, football is a religion.  In Alabama, families are torn between “War Eagle” and “Roll Tide,” and don’t even get me started on what happens when a family in Texas is divided by UT and A&M.  I have never really gotten caught up in the hype (call me crazy, but it’s just a game), but I know people who spend a lot of their money and life supporting their team.  Today, as I stood there getting caught up in the excitement and fervor of the game, I began to wonder what people would say if this same excitement and fervor, the same shaking of pom-poms and waiting in line for hours just to park, were found in the church.  Football fans aren’t mocked for being crazy.  Often they are praised for their outstanding support of their team.  Maybe that’s why Christians aren’t more passionate about church, they are afraid of being called crazy Jesus fanatics, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it.

The church doesn’t have the same excitement and intensity that a football game has, becuase that is not how people feel when they are at church.  As I looked across that crowd today, that pulsing sea of orange, I realized that it’s not really about the game at all.  People think its about the game, but it’s not– It’s about identity.  People want to belong to something, something bigger than themselves.  College football brings people across all ages and walks of life together to share in moments we cannot create on our own.  It is that fire that burns within us to be a part of something real that fuels people to come together in celebration, even when their team is losing.

Until today, Auburn has had a five game losing streak, yet that stadium was packed with fans.  Why do people stick with their teams when they are failing miserably, but bail on God the first time it seems He has let us down?  The identity we find in supporting our teams fuels us on even when the going gets tough, we know that we are not alone in the fight, and the hope that they will win the next game keeps us screaming out “2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits a dollar…” from the stands.  Church services don’t look like football games because people don’t find this same force of nature in their faith.  We have failed to fall in love with God the way people have fallen in love with their football team.  We don’t love Him the same way because we don’t stake our identity in Him.  We don’t love Him the same way because we don’t take the time to know Him and adore Him.

Me and my brother Phillip

Me and my brother Phillip

Just something to think about….at least for myself.