No, we don’t do this every Friday evening. This past Friday evening, however, we decided to go to two high school football games. We first saw Midway High School play University High School (where Ladainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers played just a few years ago.) At the third quarter, we drove to the football stadium at Lorena (where we live) and saw the final quarter of the Lorena-Connally game. This was a first for us. Two games one evening.
There were some similarities. Smells such as popcorn, burgers and hot dogs being grilled, and the smell of jalapenos on the cheese nachos. These smells were at each stadium. Each stadium had the same kind of fans.
- Some fans talked about the game to one another.
- A number of fans talked about a restaurant, their day, another game, etc.
- A few of them talked on the telephone.
- Some cheered for their team
- Many of them talked about what the team should have been doing. ("Come on, put the ball in the air!")
These people may know what the team should be doing. They may not know. (I’ve never yet seen a head football coach turn around from the sidelines and look for a fan who might know what to do). That’s really not my point right now. The point is that this whole scene looks familiar. In fact, it looks very much like the way some people deal with the things of God.
I heard Eugene Peterson this week at Baylor (translator of The Message and author of many books. On Thursday morning, he said, "Jesus was the most admired, most written about, most worshiped, and yet is the least followed."
Yes sir, that’s us! At least it describes many of us. We sit in the stands and talk about him, write about him, and worship him. Every Sunday, we go to church to be a part of classes about Jesus and hear messages about him. We sit in the stands and debate among ourselves the meaning of Scripture. Occasionally, we might shout an instruction to the coach or to the team. There is underlying assumption that we know exactly what to do–if someone would just listen.
Meanwhile, the action is on the field. On the field are the people who are playing the game. They are attempting to live out their faith.
So what is the difference? What is the difference in those who faith is a point of conversation in the stands and those whose faith is seen on the playing field? What is the difference between those who talk and talk and those who are playing the game? The difference is…
Those in the stands intend to do one thing–watch others live out their faith. They may watch those who are mentioned in the Bible. They may watch some who are obviously living out their faith today. Yet, they never leave the stands. They sit and talk. They criticize and might occasionally cheer. But those who find themselves in the stands are lacking an important aspect to faith.
Real Christ-followers practice "street-level" faith. They intend to follow Jesus on the playing field. They intend to put the way of Jesus into practice at home and in their daily work. They are not content just to talk about it.
I’m not talking about perfection (You are right. No one is perfect.) I am talking about what you and I intend to do with Jesus.
Maybe we are far too content. Maybe we are content to just come to church and talk. Maybe we are content to try to get it right. Maybe we are content to worship. Maybe we are content to admire him–from a distance.
Maybe, what we need is a little discontent and discomfort. The only way that will ever happen is for a few people to leave the stands and step onto the field. At that point, faith becomes street-level.