Full disclosure: I don’t often watch college sports. The only NCAA basketball I watched during March Madness 2019 was the end of the Virginia-Auburn game, and that was because my dad rushed in the room in the middle of my workout to tell me what a nail-biter it was. All of you Virginia fans (congrats by the way) will agree it was, indeed, a nail-biter.
When it comes time to create a tournament bracket, I usually stick to my Indiana heritage and root for the Hoosiers, but I am by no means a true, die-hard IU fan. I can’t list the starting line-up. I have no idea how impressive their record was this season. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the coach. But if the Hoosiers are doing well in the tournament, this fair-weather fan will certainly cheer them on.
You’re probably wondering (and rightfully so) why I am even attempting to write a post on college basketball considering my apparent lack of interest. Before you roll your eyes at a girl who “obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about” and move on to the next post on your feed, might I suggest that my disinterest makes me entirely competent to write this post? Here’s why.
Many Christians regard their faith with as much indifference as I regard NCAA basketball.
For several, Christianity has become a matter of convenience. Every Sunday, church pews overflow with believers who dutifully attend services, tithe, and sing in the choir because that’s what good Christians should do. These same Christians claim Christ when the environment is favorable and may even pray before their meal at a restaurant–when the waiter isn’t looking, of course.
To them, Jesus Christ is a mascot of sorts, a banner to rally around when Team Jesus is winning. But when the pressure’s on–when the defense sets up a full-court press and the game clock is ticking–they drop the ball.
It’s easy to be a Christian when life is great. The coveted promotion to a cushy job, the lovely house with a white picket fence, and the big, happy family full of smiling faces are obvious blessings for which we thank God, but the compromise of any of these blessings reveals where our true loyalty lies. A fair-weather Christian angrily shakes a fist in the face of God and allows his heart to become bitter when his Heavenly Father dares to take away one of his good gifts. Others determine that a good God wouldn’t allow such pain, so they walk away from their faith entirely.
The world greatly needs more sold-out, fully devoted Christians. Christ called for believers who had counted the high cost of discipleship and never looked back when he said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:32).
A devoted sports fan is easy to spot. He’s the one who’s repping the gear (candy-striped pants for those IU fans) and spouting the stats. He eats, sleeps, and breathes sports. A dedicated Christ-follower should be recognized just as quickly.
Instead of candy-striped pants, he adorns himself with righteousness (Isaiah 61:10, Psalm 132:9). His words are gracious (Colossians 4:6), and his actions portray the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). His love for God overflows into a sincere affection for others (John 13:35).
An authentic, steadfast Christian experiences an intense desire for a relationship with God that compares to severe pains of starvation and dehydration. King David, the man after God’s own heart, expressed such longings when he wrote Psalm 63.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1).
When was the last time you wanted God this desperately?
A follower of Christ with such a desire will stand firm in the face of opposition because their faith is so much more than mere convenience. It is their entire life (Ps. 63:3).
So what about you?
Is your faith more than a game to you? Or are you a fair-weather fan of Christianity, claiming Christ only when He benefits you?
Don’t wait to the end of the season to pick your team. You might be too late.