I'm not an athlete. (I can hear my close friends laughing right now, as they recall how many "graceful" trips down the stairs I've taken in the past.) It's safe to say I am even prejudiced toward athletes in many regards. I'm working on offering more grace to the more coordinated of our society.
Growing up a musician, I witnessed many resources from what seemed a deep pocket delivered directly to the basketball team. I watched new football jerseys grace the semi-talented team on a nearly annual basis. I remember the year our marching band actually purchased new uniforms after ten, or was it fifteen, years of the same old torn smelly uniforms. Let me tell you, it is a weird place to be when over a hundred teenagers are actually excited to wear black and gold polyester pants with weird hats. I am a advocate of the arts in schools and it makes me sad to watch these programs wane, and yet the all-influencing sports continue to capture the hearts and pocketbooks of the world. In high school (and even college), I often felt like I was on the wrong side of a losing battle or at the very least a second class citizen only allowed to sit in a specific location on the bleachers.
I'm starting to feel this way within Christianity. While, I firmly believe that many hearts are open to God's word today, I also feel that being a Christian continues to get more difficult in our western culture.
I don't like describing Christianity as a war. I feel this analogy is misconstrued into an 'us against them' theology which only causes harm. It is not us against the world. It never has been. It was not Christ's plan to set us against our loved ones ready to begin a hurtful war of words. Within spiritually divided households like Christ describes in Matthew 10:34-39, perhaps we are not abandoning. Let me suggest, we are the abandoned. We are the ones to be left in the cold and mocked for believing in an ancient tradition. We are the "ignorant" few who cling to standards that don't meet the status quo in a more "advanced" civilization. In the world's eyes, we are on the wrong side.
Let me encourage you that it is not us against them. We may be treated as the nerdy kids sitting on the bleachers sometimes, but our fight is not with the players. Our fight is with the evil that continues to consume and destroy those whom Christ loves and came to save. Our path is not to wage a war against the lost. It is to wage war against the father of lies and the patterns of this world which seem right to some, but really only destroy.
We are to love when they hate. We are to give when they take. We are to share. We are to offer open arms for the hurting. We are to serve those in need. This is how we go to battle. This is the war we wage. If we find ourselves in a war of words, we are on the threshold of being sucked into the very darkness that blinds opponents rather than climbing out of the pit together.
In a society where the noisy dog gets the bone, it may be wise to stop attempting to fit in with society. Stop barking. After all, they should know us by our love, right? Heaven forbid, they know us by our cynicism, sarcasm, hateful speech, slanderous words, politically motivated agendas or prejudiced attacks.
Maybe it's time we start getting comfortable on our little reserved section on the bleachers. Maybe it's time to wear our plastic hats with pride, and stop attempting to fit in where we don't belong.