Jesus Loves the Patriots (a love letter to the snarky church ladies on Facebook last night)

Jesus loves the New England Patriots.

You know, that, don’t you?

During the big game, Jesus wasn’t scowling and shaking His finger at all the idolaters sitting in the stands or in front of big screen TV’s.

He wasn’t sending snarky tweets to His Father like “This morning they said they loved me but now look at them. #hateidolworshipers #feelingbetrayed #betterthingstodo” #whataboutthepoor?”

He didn’t smile with special favor on the more righteous Christians who assessed the moral value of each commercial or who condemned the fans of football in their Facebook status updates, encouraging them to turn off their televisions and not sully themselves by watching “fallen Katy Perry” at half-time. (Poor girl’s gone worldly – we should be praying for her, not snacking on nachos during her performance. Seriously, people. Drop the rocks already.)

I was so disheartened last night at the covey of self-righteous Martha’s clucking on social media; it inspired me to look up the collective noun for a group of crows and learn that it’s called a “murder” of crows. Seems appropriate for all the killjoy comments peppering my newsfeed.

Jesus loves the Patriots, the Seahawks, and the killjoys so we all need to take a breath and think this one through. Is it truly evil and idolatrous to watch football?

It certainly can be. For some, it has risen to a level of worship. They should repent and take that energy and passion to Jesus. I do feel for families abandoned because a loved one would prefer to stare at the television living vicariously through others rather than engage in his or her own life. Yes, that’s wrong. And many people try to fill the emptiness of their souls with sports instead of Jesus.

But Christian romance novel reading can also become idolatry or Downton Abbey or patting ones’ self on the back for never engaging in fun “in the name of Jesus,” making self-righteousness a kind of sport. Idolatry is a devious sin that creeps up on us whenever we’re not looking at Jesus.

Think about this, friends, while Jesus dined with Pharisees and sinners, there were little children huddling in the dark hungry and abused, probably in the same vicinity as the dinner. We know that Jesus has compassion for children. That He abhors abuse. That He cares about the hungry. So, we know that enjoying a fire, a fine meal, some stories and laughter with a group of sinners doesn’t mean Jesus was ignoring His Father’s business. Neither were the Christians who gathered last night with family or friends to enjoy a great game of football. (And if you prefer not to watch football, God bless you, too!)

I can oppose sex-trafficking and still sit with my dad to cheer on our team. I can work to further the gospel even as I share a pizza with my husband during a knuckle-biting playoff.

If Jesus, the measure of all righteousness, could walk on this planet and enjoy a wedding or a banquet, the laughter of a child, a solitary starry night, a boat ride, or some fish over a fire on the beach with friends, we can also gather to watch a game without fear of condemnation.

My dour-faced friends on Facebook last night have forgotten Romans 8: 1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” I say this, not because I want them to feel condemned, too, but because I long for them to enjoy their freedom in Christ.

The souls on that football field, the souls in the stands, and the souls in a thousand sports bars and living rooms across the land are as valued by Christ as the souls in North Korean labor camps or Haitian tent cities or Guatemalan orphanages. The church is big enough and diverse enough to outreach them all if we each listen to God’s call on our lives.

So, enough clucking. Life is hard and moments where we gather should be treasured and enjoyed. Don’t allow the evil one to steal your joy. Of course, idolatry is wrong, in all its forms but idol worshipers don’t need condemnation, they already stand condemned. They need Jesus presented to them in truth and love.

Sometimes that happens over a game and a bowl of pretzels.

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    The Conversation

  1. Maxine D says:

    I hear you, and thoroughly concur with what you are saying Lori.

  2. Carla says:

    So many people glory in their self-righteousness, elevating IT to the level of worship. IF God didn’t want us enjoying life, WHY did He give us the ability to laugh, and a sense of humor to SEE humor in everyday life? I Samuel 5 and 6 talks about the Philistines taking the Ark of the Covenant back to their country. They were plagued terribly, and realized they had to get the Ark out of their country and back to the Israelites. But they didn’t want to send the Ark away empty, for fear the Israelites God would be more angry with them, so they decided they would make five golden mice and five golden emerods (the hemorrhoids that God cursed them with) as a peace offering. So they fashioned the mice and emerods. I get this image of well, you get the gist, of trying to figure out what the emerod looked like– 😉 WHY do you think God gave this explicit account? It wasn’t just to prove a point, it was to show HE had a sense of humor!

    I watch football with my husband. When the Michigan State Spartans play, Saturdays are his. I make him chicken wings and french fries. He gives so much, how can I deny him? ‘Religion’ is sometimes just flat-out cruel. I pray God bring wisdom to us all that serving Him is a JOY, not a chore.

    God bless!