One of the coolest parts of my job is my drive into work. It takes 10-15 minutes, but I always end up driving onto LSU’s campus (where the church is located). I can take Highland Road and cut right through the middle of campus. Old, historic oak trees line the road. I can take Sorority Row and look out over the (not-so-pretty) LSU lakes. Either way, the view is always unique.
Every other Friday night our international ministry has been hosting a dinner for international students on LSU’s campus. It’s actually pretty amazing. We’ll have 15 or 16 countries represented in any given evening (and between 50 and 90 people). Off the top of my head I can remember people from Chad, Congo, Germany, South Korea, China, Sudan, Venezuela, the Philippines, India, and Texas. All coming together to share a meal and get to know each other. Some Christians, some not. It’s exciting.
But that is nothing compared to my late-night drive home. Coming back through campus last night, the streets were lined with (1) cars, (2) tents, (3) ESPN GameDay’s gigantic contraption, (4) RVs, (5) people. It’s amazing to see. Over 100,000 people descend upon our campus beginning Friday afternoon and evening, all to prepare for a few hours Saturday get acomplia of 19-, 20-, 21-, and 22-year-olds displaying amazing feats of athleticism.
That’s right. It’s Saturday night in Death Valley. Tonight LSU plays Florida in what has been the most-hyped college football game of the season. CBS, who only gets rights to one prime-time game a season, has chosen this one. ESPN, who sends their GameDay crew to one campus a week, has chosen this one–and they can’t even broadcast the game. Over 90,000 people will watch the game from Tiger Stadium, and thousands more will watch the game from their own satellite dishes set up all around campus. That’s right. People come to campus and watch the game on their own TVs outside the stadium simply for the atmosphere.
Don’t get me wrong. I will be wearing my purple and gold. I will watch the game. And I love college football. It’s fun. But it’s not what I live for.
For many, many, many people, tonight is all they live for. In fact, my guess is that, depending on tonight’s outcome, the attitude at church tomorrow will be affected. It always is. We have as one of our church attenders a certain guy who people in Baton Rouge call “The Hat.” When LSU wins, people go talk to “The Hat” with smiles brimming. When LSU loses, “The Hat” may not show up. But regardless of that, people will be bummed out if LSU comes away with an “L.”
Why do we let what happens on a Saturday night steal our joy (or infuse us with joy) for a week? How come football seems to unify people (even Christians) more than Jesus? I’ve never seen anyone lose his voice at church, but I have seen people come to church without a voice because they lost it at a game.
Maybe it’s because football doesn’t ask you to give up yourself, follow after it whole-heartedly, and die for it. Maybe it’s because football never said it would not bring peace but a sword (but if you’ve ever been a visiting fan at another stadium, you don’t exactly feel peace). Maybe it’s because the world doesn’t put priority and value on Jesus. I’m sure there are many reasons.
Either way, it isn’t Jesus’ fault that many of us (including myself, if I’m not careful) will not give the same attention to knowing Him as we will to screaming until our lungs bleed on Saturday night.
What I do know is this: Those few international believers from last night (and hopefully those who weren’t yet believers) win out in the end. And we will be united under the One who told us to come and die in the biggest worship service of all time.
And Tiger Stadium will be a laughingstock.