Gameday – Week 1
October 7, 2018
By Ed Young
Every sports team has them. They show up to every game, cheer every play, don the uniforms, and defend their teams with passion. They are the real fans. But fandom isn’t something reserved just for the sports world.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young parallels our response to God with the kind response avid fans have for their teams. Because when it comes to excitement and passion for life, there’s no greater place to display it than the only thing Jesus ever built – the local church!
Gameday! Does anyone in here ever watch ESPN’s Gameday? Anybody watch Gameday? It’s a very popular program. In fact, I feel like I pretty much have breakfast with Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso every Saturday morning. We love to watch. It’s OK to laugh. We love to watch Gameday. And after all, when I’m up here I want to have like a conversation with you. So again, clap. You can go, “Preach it, white boy!” You can go, “All right!” Because you know, if we were at a game, I think we would cheer and this is a game. We have game day as followers of Christ every day and this is part of the big game that we have every week around here. So let’s cheer like it’s game day. I don’t know about you but I love to look at the fans against the backdrop of Gameday. The fans, man. They freak me out. They’re so fun, they’re so enjoyable. They do so many outrageous things.
We love to be fans. I mean, you’re a fan. I’m a fan. We’re made to be a fan. We’re fashioned to be a fan. We’re designed for devotion. And it’s so stunning to see how we love to cheer for stuff, how we love to applaud for things. And a lot of us here and in Florida and in Oklahoma and those who are watching online, a lot of us are major football fans, are we not? We love the game of football. We love it! We love it.
My brother told me, he goes, “Ed, wouldn’t it be hilarious if Martians landed one day on planet Earth and they watched us during football season? They would go, ‘Wow. They worship an oblong ball, a pigskin zipped up with air and all these muscular guys are pushing it back and forth on top of green carpet that has white lines through it.’” It’s amazing.
Have you ever thought about that? We love to be fans. We love to cheer for stuff. No one taught me how to do it. I just do it. No one taught you how to do it, you just do it. We are people that are into devotion.
Now the Bible would call this worship, and I’ll talk about that in a little while. We’re made for worship, and I think as you look at the life of Jesus it’s interesting how many times people told Jesus to follow him throughout the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, chronicles the life of Jesus. He said, “Follow me, follow me, follow me.” Several dozen times he said “Follow me.”
What does it mean to follow Jesus? What does it mean to do that? Well, it means to enthusiastically devote yourself to someone or something. And when Jesus asked people to follow him, that’s what he was asking and challenging people to do.
Who knows? If Jesus could walk on this stage right here in the flesh, maybe instead of saying follow me, he might say “Become a fan.” Because we understand a fan. And in today’s culture follow is kind of hollow. That’s what people do on social media. They don’t really follow us. “Oh, I have this many followers” or ‘You have this many followers,” but they don’t really follow us. They’re just sort of like, “OK.” Check out what you do, whatever. Jesus might say, “Become a full-on fan.” I think he might say that.
I’ve been thinking about that, I’ve been kind of turning that over on the rotisserie grill of my mind about what it means to be a fan. Have you ever thought about that? You know, I’m gonna warn you about this message. If this is your first time here or your 100th time here, this message is gonna be – I don’t know, there’ll be some laughs in this message. It’ll be sort of, sort of some comedy in this message and that’s OK to laugh, right? OK, but also don’t let the comedy fool you because very quickly it will segue into an industrial-strength message. It will segue into conviction right quick, but it will be fun. And it will be funny, but also it’s gonna be foundational and sort of in your grill because later on I think our Savior Jesus is gonna throw a flag in your life and mine. He’s gonna draw a line in the sand and say, OK. Which side are you on?
Fans, fans, there are different types of fans. There’s the “what’s the score” fan. Kind of the clueless fan. You ever seen one of those? There’s the “Uncle Rico” fan. “You know, if they’d have put me in the fourth quarter, state finals, I’d be playing on Sundays.” No you wouldn’t. There’s the “I should have been a coach” fan. There is the millennial fan, you know with the beard, skinny jeans. They’re not drinking beer, they’re drinking pour-over coffee as they watch the game. So there are different types of fans.
Basically, though, there are two types of fans and let’s just talk about these two groups. There’s gonna be the full-on fanatical fan. That’s one group. The other group would be the bandwagon or fair-weather fan.
I thought to myself, who do I know who’s a full-on fan? I thought about my wife, Lisa. You just saw her. She’s a full-on fan. She’s a fanatical fan. She loves football, loves it! Especially the University of South Carolina. Their mascot, the Gamecocks. What? A chicken? The fighting game chickens of South Carolina! Lisa is a true fan. I’m not. I’ll just be flat-out honest. I am more of a fair-weather (I almost said foul weather), bandwagon fan.
So I was just thinking about some of the character qualities of Lisa’s fandom and as I was thinking about those, I thought, wow. Those relate to the field of faith, because as I told you earlier we’re made to cheer, we’re made to get behind something. We’re made for devotion. God gives us that opportunity. God says, “You can either worship the Creator or the creation.”
We have a lot of people that worship the creation. They put plants and animals and things above God. They worship, they’re environmentalists. Now, I’m all about the environment. We should take care of the planet. We don’t put the planet, though, above the person of Jesus. We don’t do that. That’s pantheism.
Then a lot of people worship animals. They worship the creatures as opposed to the Creator. Try posting something on social media, as I do a lot. This past week I posted a picture of an alligator snapping turtle that I caught. Did you see that on Instagram? It weighed over a hundred pounds. I loved the turtle, I took care of the turtle. Gingerly put this 90-year-old specimen of a dinosaur back into the tricky waters of the Trinity River. I got some hate on that. A turtle! Now, I don’t kill turtles. I practice catch and release. The only time I keep fish is if I’m going to eat fish, but we’re worshipping animals now? Really? Animals aren’t humans. They’re not. God made us uniquely human. It’s interesting how people worship that.
A lot of people worship man. We worship our bodies. Think about body building. Think about this whole realm of eating clean. I mean, some people just take it over the edge. They redline it, lifting weights and working out. We’re addicted, we’re worshipping that.
A lot of people worship money in our culture today. We worship so many things and we want to step back and go, “Whoa! Great worship. Wrong object. Or wrong person.”
But the bottom line is we’re gonna be a fan. We’re gonna be a fan. It’s great to be a fan! I’m not hating on cheering or yelling or “Go Cowboys!” or “Let’s go, Dolphins!” or “University of Miami!” or “Oklahoma Sooners!” or the “Texas Longhorns!” or the “South Carolina Game-chickens!” We can do all of that. That’s awesome. Don’t, though, waste your worship. Don’t do it! God knows if we waste our worship on anything or anyone else other than him we’re going to be gravely (pun intended) disappointed.
Well let’s go through Lisa’s life. I love to talk about someone else other than me. Lisa is a full-on fan. How do you know that, Ed? I just observe her.
#1 – She’s super passionate. Whoo! I’ll hear her do that. I’m in my study trying to put the finishing touches on the message, she’s watching the game chickens. Once again, and normally they lose, I go,
“Well, Carolina is two touchdowns behind with 3 minutes to go in the game. Maybe they can pull it out!” I’m thinking to myself, wow. She’s passionate about that? If they lose,
“Oh! They lost!”
So, her emotions go up and down because she is a full-on fan. God has feelings, too. So often Friday night lights! Woohoo! Peewee football! Yeah! The SMU Mustangs! Woohoo! The USC Trojans! Jesus? <audience cheers> (I set you up for that one, didn’t I?)
How passionate? I’m just asking you a question, how passionate are you about the things of God? Are you a full-on fan or are you a fair-weather fan?
ILLUS: I played basketball at Florida State University. I’m a member of the letterman’s club and so forth and so on. But I hate to confess this, but I am a fair-weather fan when it comes to the Seminoles. I don’t really follow Florida State and I played for them! I just don’t. I don’t know why, I’ve thought about that. I just don’t. I mean, if I saw a home game or they’re watching on television and they won the National Championship I’d be like, OK, yeah, great. But I’m just a bandwagon fan. Are you a bandwagon fan or a full-on fan?
Real fans like Lisa, they’re well educated. She knows what’s going on. I mean, she talks to people who know what’s going on about the game chickens, about the quarterback situation, about the coaching situation, about their schedule. She knows what’s happening. Web sites and she’s reading and looking and she is a well-informed fan.
Are you? “Fantasy football!” Are you? “I’ve got the Cowboys schedule memorized!” Are you? “I mean, I know the roster of this team and that team.”
How about the roster of THE play book? How about the plays, the offensive and defensive schemes in this Book? How about the basic doctrine of the faith? Salvation by grace through faith. The authority and the inerrancy of Scripture. The substitutionary atonement of Jesus. Sanctification, justification, some of you are like – “What are you talking about?” I’m just talking to you about basic Christianity. And sadly, a lot of you have no idea what I’m talking about. Are you a real fan? Really? You’re a full-on fan? OK, just asking.
Uh, Lisa is also loyal. She’s crazy loyal. Uh-oh. You see that clock, don’t you? We’ve got one minute and 48 seconds left in the first half. I’ve gotta cruise. She’s loyal.
ILLUS: There’s a new documentary on Serena Williams, an incredible female tennis player, the best female tennis player of all time. And Serena was talking about motherhood and her coaches were kind of getting up in her grill. They were like, “Serena, you can’t fit tennis into your family. You’ve got to fit family – if you’re gonna win – into tennis.”
Whoa. You know, as a fan, what do we do? I mean, the schedule is set and we build our lives around the schedule. How about this schedule? How about 52 weekends a year? “Oh yeah, I just go to church when I can. I mean, if everything lines up. I have this opportunity, that opportunity, and then if I can’t do that, OK. I’ll go to church.”
Wow. Loyal. If you recommend the church you’ve gotta defend the church. People don’t jump from being a Cowboys fan to an Eagles fan. You don’t jump from being an Oklahoma Sooner to following the University of Miami. You’re in! And people as we travel now all over the place, all over the world, the biggest frustration church leaders deal with around the world, people hopping from this place to that place.
Oh, 10, now 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
<half time whistle and announcers>
Are you guys ready to take it to an HNL? A ‘hole, ‘notha level! I thought so, I thought so. As I said, Lisa is super passionate. She’s well educated. She’s crazy loyal. But also, very relational.
When it comes to being a fan she’s always inviting people over to watch the game chickens, well, play. Always, always, always. Connecting. “Oh honey, look! They have a South Carolina Gamecocks bumper sticker on the back! They have a license plate!” I mean, she wants us to wave at cars and, “Hey, what’s up!”
OK, you’re a fan. You’re devoted. You’re a follower of Christ. How promotional are you? You know, how promotional are you, and how relational are you? Do you invite? Do you connect? Do you ask people to show up? I mean, we have some empty seats here. I know it’s state fair weekend. We have a holiday tomorrow and I know we have all these games. The Red River Shootout, and we have all these games in Florida and Miami, and I understand that. But I’m looking at some of you and wondering, I haven’t seen anybody with you.
But if you had, I mean, season tickets. If someone gave you a block of eight seats I guarantee you’d fill them. “Oh, come to the game with me! You’ve gotta see USC play. You’ve gotta see the Gamecocks play.”
I just thought about that when I thought about Lisa. She’s very relational. She’s highly invested. When she goes to Columbia, South Carolina now and then, invariably she’ll go to a game and she will sit in great seats. And she’ll pay good money to sit in great seats. She buys paraphernalia. She buys all sorts of clothing. I mean, she has a University of South Carolina shirt on today!
How promotional are you? I mean, how invested are you? How relational are you? How loyal are you? How educated are you? How passionate are you? Major questions.
I checked the ticket prices right before I walked out. The average season ticket package for the Dallas Cowboys, average, $1,900.00. Parking averages $30-80. I thought about doing that during this series. Flagging people down and going, “Whoa! That will be $80 because you have a great parking space. In fact, all of you people here down front, when you walk out you’re not gonna be able to leave until you pay $525 per person. These are, like, sought after seats.” And some of you are shooting daggers at me right now, but if you were in a stadium, you’d be like, “Wow! These are awesome seats! Only $525!” Isn’t that funny? So you’re a fan? Seriously, you’re a full-on fan of Christ? What? Just asking.
How about your finances? Something you’ll never hear (I love to imitate Jerry Jones) Jerry Jones say, I thought about several things. #1 – “My stay-dyum’s too big.” I’ve heard that about this place.
“Too loud. I don’t like all the different, different songs.”
“I just want your money.”
“Man, how much did that screen cost?”
“Oh, isn’t it awesome? He signed a $75 million contract! Whoooo!!”
You’re a fan? Seriously, you’re a follower of Christ, right? Let me, let me look at your finances. I mean, that’s the answer. That’s what the Bible says. I didn’t say that. I can look at your money, you can look at my money. You can go, “Oh, OK. I can see who Ed is devoted to.” Just a thought. Again, I’m just… Lisa is invested. She spends a good bit of money on football.
Oh, also, this is a great one. She’s extremely generational. In other words, when Lisa was little she didn’t have a choice of the Gamecocks. Her dad graduated from there and I think took her to games before she could even walk. So it’s like, “You’re gonna be a Gamecock as long as you’re under my roof, little Lisa. And then when you graduate and individuate you can make your own choice.”
“Oh! I want to be a modern, cool, millennial parent! You know, my kids are just gonna make up their own mind about religion and the things of God.”
And how much dope are you smoking?
“Yeah, I want to give my kid a choice. You know, I don’t think all their friends show up here.”
Well, they’re not. And they don’t, and they won’t. What’s the next issue? Who’s the parent? I mean seriously, who’s the coach here? I’m glad I didn’t have a choice in the matter when I was growing up! I’m glad that my parents were generational, and I’m glad this church is generational!
Are you? Think about the resources and energy and effort we put into the next generation! Are you a fan? I mean, yeah, I know you are but are you a fair-weather fan or a full-on fan? Fans are generational.
One more, and I’ve touched on this already. But Lisa is thoroughly promotional. You really can’t shut her down when she gets on a roll talking about the University of South Carolina. And it’s amazing because they’re mediocre most of the time. I know they play in the SEC and it’s probably, in my opinion, the most difficult conference there is to play in. I get it. But they’re mediocre at best, above average, but they just never kicked over into greatness. But I’m telling you, she’s promotional. She’ll tell you about it. She’ll advertise it. She’ll talk about it.
Are you promotional about Jesus? Are you promotional about this ‘stay-dyum’? Are you? Again, just a test. I mean… Jesus, though, he talked about basically two groups of people, the wheat and the tares. The believers and the nonbelievers. The fruitful and the fruitless. Those on the narrow way and those on the broad way. Those who are full-on fans and those who are fair-weather fans. Jesus doesn’t do fair weather. I told you you’d get convicted. I’m just telling you what Jesus said. He doesn’t do the bandwagon thing.
The gospel of John – John 6:60-66. Here’s the context. Jesus had just performed the Hebrew Happy Meal miracle, the feeding of the 5,000. People were like, “Oh boy! Free food! High in protein and carbs! Fish and chips. Whoo! All right.”
He began to teach and talk and things, and then the people thought, “Oh yeah. Jesus, he’s gonna be a political figure. He’s going to take control and the Jews will dominate.”
They were thinking that, and then Jesus kind of cruised over a body of water and they discovered he was over there, and they all followed him over there. I mean people were just dying to get a glimpse of him. And all of a sudden he draws a line in the sand. All of a sudden he goes, “Wow. I’m gonna throw a flag and I want you to think about your life.”
Listen to these difficult words. John 6:60, “On hearing it many of his disciples …” Not a few… disciples! I mean, he was separating the full-on followers with the fair-weather fans. “On hearing it, many (fair-weather fans) said this is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Verse 61, Jesus of course hacking into what was happening, “Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’”
See, we don’t understand that the message of Jesus is offensive. Let me say that again. The message of Jesus draws lines in the sand. Lines of love, lines of grace, but lines of truth.
And now skip down to verse 66. It’s interesting that this is John 6:66, is it not? “From this time many…” Not a few! Not this person or that person, not the ones who had negative blogs or anything. No, no, no. “From this time many of his disciples turned their back and no longer followed him.”
Many of the disciples turned their back and no longer followed him. Read here, they were no longer fans. They were, again, fair-weather, bandwagon fans. Again, I’m just asking you, are you a full-on fan or a fair-weather fan? I mean, just a checklist.
Then Matthew 7:21, Jesus said this, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.”
Again, we have Jesus separating the full-on fan with the fair-weather fan. Which one are you? Which one are you?
Think about these qualities I just mentioned. They mirror the life of Jesus. Passionate! Is Jesus passionate for you and me? Are you kidding me? Educational. Jesus knows you and me better than we know ourselves. Loyal. He’s for you, not against you. He’s for me. The Holy Spirit is encouraging you to acquiesce and to give your life to him. Relational. That’s Christianity. It’s not a religion. How about invested? Jesus is totally invested in our salvation. Think about the words that describe salvation in the Bible. They’re all financial terms. Generational. Jesus is thinking about the next generation. He’s cheering for parents and single parents. He’s cheering for those who are in authority to help and to coach and to teach and to train the next generation. Why are there so many genealogies in the Bible? The next generation! Promotional. Jesus is promoting you and me right now to the Father, the Bible says. He’s promoting. He wants the best for our lives.
Are you, again one more time, these are the words of Jesus, a full-on, fanatical follower of Christ or a fair-weather fan? Jesus, remember, he doesn’t do fair-weather. Let’s pray.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]