I don’t know about you, but I was sitting on the edge of my seat (albeit in Florida!) last Saturday night as the Buckeyes “pulverized” the Nittany Lions!
In fact, it was such a “runaway” contest that midway through the fourth quarter, with the score 26-14, I sent a text message to my friend in Akron saying, “’S’over. Going to bed!”
Now, for anyone who actually watched the game, you know that at that point in the game, Penn State was winning! I did NOT go to bed, and was very excited when Ohio State scored two touchdowns to take the lead and “run away” with the victory, 27-26.
As I watched that game, the recollection of two previous games flooded my memory banks:
First, the “White Out” game there in (Now-Not-So-) Happy Valley brought to mind the “Black Out” game in Columbus a few years ago. That was actually one of the last games I have attended in Ohio Stadium. I was there with my youngest son, and we were desperately attempting to cheer on the Buckeyes against – guess who? – the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Quite frankly, that game was frustrating for a true Buckeye fan like me, since as a fanatical Buckeye fan, I was asked NOT to wear either Scarlet or Gray, but… black? It did not make sense.
And, yes, the Buckeyes won that one too!
The second game occurred quite a few years before that one – actually when I was still a student at “TOSU”.
It was the Ohio State-Michigan game in Columbus. I was attending the game with a couple of my Men’s Glee Club buddies. We were sitting in the sky – way up in the nose-bleed section in the end zone, on the opposite end of the stadium from the majority of Ohio State students.
There was a fellow sitting just a few rows away from us who caught our attention early in the first quarter, and throughout the game we kept our eye on him. There were two things about this fellow that were obvious — first, he was rooting for Michigan, and second, he was more-than-slightly inebriated.
As the game began, he stood up in the middle of his section of seats (which was filled with Ohio State fans), waved what looked to be a $100 bill around in the air above his head, and yelled repeatedly at the top of his lungs, “I’ve got $100 that says that Michigan will win by two touchdowns! Any of you Buckeyes want to match me?”
Now that fellow had guts! He waited for a response to his bold offer, and he got several takers, and yet he continued to make his loud and boastful wagers all throughout the game!
One thing you have to admire about that fellow is his enthusiastic support for his team. He may not have been very wise, but he sure was enthusiastic!
As a pastor, I find myself longing for people like this “fan” as a part of the church of Jesus Christ, people who aren’t afraid to be called “fan”-atics, who are enthusiastic and energetic in supporting their “team.”
In the church of Jesus Christ, we need that same energy to be translated from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning. There seems to be a definite lack of enthusiasm, in general, for Christ and Christianity.
In fact, that sense of apathy has prompted someone to comment that if all the people who fell asleep in church were laid end to end … well, they would be a lot more comfortable!
I am convinced that the reason most people are not more enthusiastic and involved in their church is not the minister’s fault (yes, you’d expect me to say that, wouldn’t you?).
No, rather, it is that they come expecting to receive something rather than to give something! They come expecting to “be fed” or “be led” (in worship) or “be praised” (for services rendered) or “be raised” (to some position of influence and authority).
The Scriptures however give us some insight into this problem of enthusiasm in the local church: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) and “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together … but let us encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
In other words, if you want to enjoy life, have energy for living, and be energized to get out of bed each day, LIVE YOUR LIFE FOR THE LORD AND LIVE IT IN SERVING AND ENCOURAGING OTHERS!
A traveling salesman found himself one Sunday morning in a community located far from home. He decided to attend a church service near the hotel where he was staying.
He walked in, sat down, and worshipped with the congregation there. He was not impressed with the music or the message preached.
At the conclusion of the service, this man was regretting taking the time to come there, when the elderly woman sitting beside him turned to him and told him how glad she was to be there. She vivaciously said, “It took a long time for me this morning to get out of bed and to come here today, but I know that God has me here for YOU!”
Her enthusiasm for the Lord, in spite of the church service itself was, for this man, catching! He left there determined to cheer someone else up as well!
When we live our lives for the Lord, and with the idea that we are to give ourselves in serving Him and not just to get something for ourselves, THAT will breed enthusiasm — and enthusiasm is contagious!
So the question is: Which one are you – a fan who politely cheers even though your heart may not be in it, or a fanatic who is ravenously enthusiastic for your “team”, and serves Him and others completely?
Call me a fanatic!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.