Two day after the Washington State University’s Cougars suh-weet victory over the University of Washington’s Huskies, my pulse has finally subsided. I’ll admit though I still get a grin on my face when I think about the awesome turnover during overtime (I think that defensive lineman still may be catching his breath) and the pictures of the final scoreboard showing a jaw dropping 31 to 28.
The Cougars win this last Friday meant so much to alumni and Cougar supporters who are known to be some of the most loyal and die-hard fans in the nation. The stream of Facebook posts post-game went on for hours and only seemed to trickle out finally at 11:00 PM when my parents and I stepped out of seeing Lincoln at the local movie theater.
I’ll admit that I ‘Liked’ as many posts as I could stay on top of and, after an unintentional but evidently noticeable absence from Facebook per my Aunt Diane, even posted one or two blurbs myself as I sat on the edge of my parents couch watching the second half of the game.
Who am I kidding? I only sat for a few moments. In fact, if there were a web cam showing the activity of the Pickett’s living room, you would have seen me doing acrobatics, loud clapping and screaming at Tuel to get the ball out of his hands as UW came ever closer (sorry for the dramatics Tuel – I’ve never been a QB so I realize I have no place to yell at you from the other side of the state).
The previously referenced web cam would have seen my father and I do high tens, really awkward victory dances (evidently, it’s genetic?) and whoop and holler making me very thankful that my parents live on a farm. After the victory, all I could do was collapse on the couch and relish our sweet (if not what felt like singular) win.
And then it hit me…
Over the course of the last two hours, I had exerted enough passion both in physical action and posts on social media to be exhausted. My blood pressure had been higher than any time I could remember in recent months and I was brought from an emotional low to high within minutes based on the position of the football on the field and achievement of a first down.
As I poured over the Facebook news feed and continued to ‘Like’, ‘Like’, ‘Like’, all of my fellow Cougs posts, I had to ask why I didn’t get nearly as excited or energized over Jesus as I did the Apple Cup win?
Now, for those of you who know me and realize that I continuously struggle with being a Martha over a Mary, I can hear the protests encouraging me to relax, remember it’s only a football game, and to not to think too much.
Trust me, I went through those arguments in my mind too and here, two days later, find myself under the same compulsion.
You see… Washington State University means a lot to me. It was a place where I went to earn an education that would set me up for a successful future. Instead, however, during my tenure there, I met a Savior who gave me the best gift ever… a forever future in eternity with Him that I couldn’t test, write, or merit my way through. As such, my experience at WSU means so much and the Apple Cup victory was such a reminder of Jesus’ good gifts in my life as many of the elated Facebook posts I read were from sorority sisters, classmates, friends, and even University-staff who were Christians and walked with me through those very important, first few years where I was (what do you know?) a seed acclimating to Gospel-drenched soil.
Further reflection indicated that this upcoming year is my fifth year anniversary of being a WSU graduate. Much of the last two years of my tenure at WSU were spent not only trying up wrap up classes, find a job and finish my Honor’s thesis, but also praying to see how Jesus would use me after I left Pullman. Today, I find myself as a CPA working for the third fastest growing church in the country. I co-labor among the most passionate, creative, and cross-centered people I’ve ever known. Why then would a football game bring more excitement than the Gospel at times, I wondered.
Today, as I read through the Gospel of John, I found my answer in some of the last words which Jesus spoke to his disciples before meeting the Jewish authorities who would falsely accuse him as a criminal and oversee His crucifixion: the world is an opponent to the Gospel.
John 15:18-19 ESV |
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…”
It’s unpopular to share the news of Jesus’ perfection, sacrifice through death and resurrection. Especially in a world where false gods can be purchased, legislated or indulged so easily without faith but rather tangible presence. In the Old Testament, false gods were easily identified through the creation of shrines, temples and carved images. Today though, I find they are more often present on our Facebook profiles, TV screens and debit/credit card statements. They are engrained in our choices and therefore we recoil when presented with the salt and abrasiveness of the counter-mindset which the Gospel of Jesus Christ provides.
As such, it seems easier to post news about what I buy, what I watch, or what I do then the Lord that I put my trust in. Thankfully though, Jesus knew and continues to know this as He offers more and more salvation relationships to imperfect people, including me. Not only does He save but He invites His people into the work of ministry fully knowing that many will cause false starts, drop the ball or execute personal fouls.
Thankfully, I’m not left to my own devices. Just after warning His disciples about the opposition they would encounter (nearly all of the twelve disciples were executed as a consequence to their lives of ministry following Jesus’s resurrection and ascension), Jesus also makes the following great promise:
Portions of John 16:6-14 ESV |
But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…
… When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, … He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
In short, Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit which works through the world and among believers ensuring the will of God the Father and work of Jesus is preserved as they strive to share the Gospel. Just as I confessed above, the presence of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee safety or a problem-free life to the follower of Jesus. However, I do believe the additional promise Jesus made to his disciples:
John 16:20-22 ESV |
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
Based off the words of Jesus, it seems like my quandary over the ease of sharing a sports victory over the gospel falls in line with what He forewarned in John. However, the “hate of the world” which Jesus openly shares about is truly trumped by the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and it’s influence on the world as well as the promised joy that I can look ahead to. As such, it seems only appropriate to respond with a: