Alabama Football Is An Idol In My Life…..

Thanks a lot David Platt, you’ve gone and destroyed one of my favorite past times— Alabama football. Up until about an hour ago I was perfectly fine with spending hours every Saturday watching games, using pretty much every spare minute of my week talking , blogging, podcasting about and generally being OK with having my life revolve around Alabama. So thanks, I am officially convicted and have to figure out what the heck I’m supposed to do with my life.. /sarcasm font

That may be pretty heavy sarcasm  but it’s true. This thought, that football is an idol in my life, is something that has been brewing in my soul the last 4-8 months but really came to tipping point 4 weeks ago when I was interviewed by the BBC regarding football and violence in American culture. While explaining to the BBC host how incredibly important football is to southern culture and how we as normal people worship the literal ground football players walk on, I began to be convicted. And then I listened to David Platt’s sermon “The Cross and the Christian’s Sport”. 

Go listen. NOW.

If you are a sports fan of any team, you call yourself a Christian, and you didn’t feel the Holy Spirit convicting you of your idolatry while listening to that sermon you are either 1) A better person than everyone else or 2) A lying, prideful person. So which is it?

Honestly, for me, it was a little of both as it took almost the entire sermon to realize how much weight I put on Alabama football. The Hebrew word for glory is kabod (K-B-D) and means “weight” or “heaviness.” Think about that and apply it to how much “weight” you place on stuff, and not just football, in your own life. It can be TV, friends, family, worship or anything that is weighted heavier than God in your life. For me, at times, I place more weight or “glory” in Alabama football, CrossFit, and many other things than Jesus or his gospel. What a depressing thought. 

My emotions are wrapped in football. During games, how I feel the next day or even just moments after a game has ended. Don’t even think about watching a game with me cause I am over the top and probably not very christian like during games. Worst of all, my kids are not allowed to talk to or even touch daddy during games. How awful is that?  What kind of man puts a FOOTBALL GAME above his kids affection?

It’s not funny the dogs hide when a game is on, it’s just sad. 

You may not know this but outside of this little blog that only a few people read each week, I am also a full-time project manager for the state of Florida, and I also manage Roll ‘Bama Roll the largest Alabama sports blog on the interwebs. So part of my job, and I do get paid for it, is to blog about Alabama sports. Literally, I have to. So how do I, a guy who covers a sport part-time, balance Alabama and the gospel in my life? How do I show the grace of Jesus and still have a healthy enjoyment of Alabama football?

For starters my plan is to take David’s suggestion and measure the joy I find in football to my joy in the cross. Football is a good gift from God but the greatest gift of all is his son, Jesus Christ. I can’t say I will automatically be able to remove my emotions while watching games, but I have to tell myself over and over that my joy is found in Christ and not on whether or not Alabama wins a football game. I will then apply this same “weight” to my family. Football must be something my family watches as a family.

David Platt uses a CJ Mohaney quote in his sermon that cut me real deep: 

“Our kids will pursue what we as parents applaud.”

When my son or daughter sees me get upset over football what does that teach them about me or even Jesus? I am suppose to be the spiritual leader of my family and if I can’t hold back my anger during a football game, how does that positively affect them? I don’t want my son’s joy to be wrapped in Alabama football’s success, which is fleeting and can be taken from us in a moment. I want him to enjoy football with me, not hate it cause of me. Rather I want him to understand where his true joy is found and that only in Christ can we walk in confidence. I want my family to see where I place God in my life and have them know they are more important to me than silly ol’ football.

This is my hope.

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10 thoughts on “Alabama Football Is An Idol In My Life…..

  1. Great post…and sadly true for too many Christians…including me! I came to this realization of myself a couple of years ago and have tried (and continue to try) to change my ways. I still “love” Bama (and how great is it to be a Bama fan in the middle of Gator country right now, amirite?), I follow recruiting, I follow offseason workouts/updates, etc., but you cannot tell the outcome of a game by my mood for the three days following the game. I now watch the games WITH my family. I am now under control throughout the games regardless of how it is playing out. I try to use a lot of things surrounding it to teach my kids instead of focusing on just the gameday football…and there is a LOT of teachable material if you are looking for it. Anyway, great post and I am looking forward to hearing David Platt’s sermon tonight. Radical was an outstanding book and I think he is a fantastic preacher.

    • David Platt, along with Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll, are huge “heroes” of mine. I honestly can’t get enough of their sermons, books and teachings. Chandler’s book “Explicit Gospel” changed how I use the Gospel in my life. I’m currently reading JD Greear’s book “Gospel” which is outstanding.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Hey Lyell,

    Honestly this is where I am as well. I hate Platt and I love Platt at the same time. I think for me the keys are: 1. How much time do I spend each week, each day, thinking about Alabama football as opposed to how much time do I focus on faith, family, ministry etc. 2. How do I honestly feel (not how I internet feel) before and after an Alabama game. In other words does my emotional well being depend on Alabama or Jesus. i will admit that as long as Alabama wins, regardless of the score, I sleep just fine on Saturday night. But, when we lose I can hardly go to sleep for replaying the game in my head, being upset etc.

    So, I’m somewhat a mess in this regard. The only real positive I can find in my personal struggle with the roll of football is that I can readily identify with almost every high school and college guy in my youth group (and good number of the girls),though they be largely UGA or even Auburn followers.

    By the way, I watched the MSU game with my senior pastor (and his family) who is also a big Bama guy. The dude was reviewing his sermon notes while we watched the game. I’m sure Platt would not approve but his message Sunday was very good.
    5026

    • I told my wife it’ll take time for me to remove my emotions during games. After 31 years that’s a tough habit to break over night. Running RBR doesn’t help since I spend most my day promoting the site and Alabama.

  3. Oh…I will be back! I went to my Infantry Captain’s Career Course with a guy that goes to Mars Hill…what an unbelievable music ministry they have! The number of solid Christian music groups/singers that comes from that network is unreal!!!

  4. I tapped over from RBR. Thanks for the message. I had no idea that you had another blog. I enjoy your stuff at RBR but will stop over here often from now on. As a missionary in Portugal, Bama football is one of the few creature comforts that I maintain over here. I don’t see it as an idol but enjoy being able to keep a connection to back home. I’d love to be able to chat more about this in the future. Keep up the good work and RTR. Just not too heavily.

    • Yeah man I’d love to talk any time you want, either here or on email. And I’m jealous about your mission in Portugal. I’ve always wanted to do missions but having a wife and three kids makes that difficult. Now I get what Paul was saying in 1st Corinthians.

      • You could still do it. The Lord would honor your faith. When we started preparing to come to Portugal, we already had 5 kids. One of those was our son who was only a month old. They never missed a beat. The Lord is gracious and full of mercy.
        If you ever get time, I’d love for you to check out my new blog (www.michaelandrzejewski.com) where I’m going to try to focus predominantly on missions. If you ever get a chance to visit, we’d love to host you in Portugal!

  5. I just left a long reply and it was deleted. Here goes again. Shortened version. Good post. Came from RBR. Didn’t know you had another blog.
    I’m a missionary in Portugal and see Bama football as a creature comfort that I’ve retained and not an idol. I love to connect with you some time. I’ll check back on the blog soon. Thanks.

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