The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament officially gets underway this weekend. If you read my post last week, it’ll be no surprise to discover that I look forward to it every year. I enjoy watching game after game after game as the exciting, and sometimes brutal eliminations take place. And you can be sure that I’ll be sporting my favorite team jersey when my beloved Tarheels take the court for their game(s) too.
But for me, loyalty to my home team isn’t just during tournament time. When it comes to college sports, light blue is always my primary color. You won’t find any black and gold Georgia Tech T’s in my closet. No NC State red ball caps. No Clemson orange tank tops, and certainly nothing in Duke blue!
Dedication like this isn’t unique to Carolina fans. Most Alabama fans wouldn’t be caught dead in orange and blue. Tennessee boosters aren’t going to be mistaken for Gator fans. Red Sox supporters don’t wear pinstripes, Jeff Gordon fans don’t drive Fords, and there are some NASCAR lovers who will never wear anything but the number “3.”
But even with all my devotion, I remember a time when I made a mistake in clothing choice. I carelessly headed out the door to a Wake Forest-Carolina game wearing a yellow and black striped shirt! I was aghast to realize people around me in the stands thought I was a Deacon fan! But you know, some spectators do that on purpose. They outfit themselves in opposing colors so they can blend in and avoid conflict.
Too often, believers do the same thing. We make sure to dress ourselves with the right attitudes and actions on Sunday mornings, but when we leave ‘home court’ and go to work on Monday, we clothe ourselves in enemy colors to avoid opposition. We look like the world. We act like the world. We react like the world…. and then wonder why we have so little influence on the culture.
Ephesians 5:1 encourages us to “Be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live a life of love just as Christ loved us.” That means that we should relate to others in the same way that Jesus relates to us. He was willing to endure the shame and ridicule of the cross to align Himself fully with humanity. He gave His all to have a relationship with us, so our grateful response should be to declare our full allegiance to Him by investing in the lives of those around us.
The contest between good and evil is never ending, so the rivalry we’re involved in is enormously more significant than the final outcome of any sporting event. With the souls of countless individuals hanging in the balance, God is constantly recruiting committed team players who, regardless of the personal cost, will back His program wholeheartedly.
So, take an objective look at yourself today. How are you outfitted for the real contest? (Read Ephesians 6:10-18 for how to correctly clothe yourself!) Remember that in this game, winning or losing always matters!