In 2014, a month out of my Junior year of high school, I spent a week of my summer on a mission trip.
Guy in the Back: YOUR LIFE SHOULD BE A MISSION TRIP!
Alex: WOW, YOU’RE SO CLEVER!
I (and my youth group) went to this city and (at least I) absolutely fell in love with it while working for the church planters there. Since then, I’ve cheered for their sports teams, followed the Twitter account for its Send Network and have often prayed for that community. The other cities I’ve visited for these types of trips have not stuck with me as well, and it’s because, even though it sounds silly, this particular city was special to me. So, “What city?” you might ask.
As I sit here wearing my hat that bears the city’s baseball team on it, I pause to think of how grateful I am for not being a sports guy.
And since I am a not-really-a-sports-guy guy, it’s easy to wonder why I even care. Why do I watch the games? Why do I follow the Indians? Why do I hopelessly defend Lebron James?
The answer stems from what Ben, a church planter in Cleveland, casually told our group one afternoon. Honestly, there was no way for us to see it coming, but all of a sudden, he says, “Our church prays that the teams here win. When they win, it helps the city, and we love our city.”
Now, that was clearly paraphrased, but the main points remain. City of Hope Church prays for Cleveland’s sports teams because, when they win, it helps Cleveland economically and emotionally. And they do this because they love Cleveland.
Isn’t that insane? I mean, imagine if at a high school football game someone led a prayer during the moment of silence and said, “God, I pray that the Bearcats win tonight.” We would think that guy was crazy and selfish! However, the heart that the church members pray for their teams is different.
For me, what Pastor Ben said to us blew my mind and brought a whole new grounding to, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.we’ve all heard before (1 Corintinthians 10:31).” They cheer for a sports team because they believe, ultimately, it will make it easier for them to share hope with their community. Their hearts don’t say, “I want this team to win, and God can do that for us.” Their hearts say, “I want God to be glorified, and a win might help.”
I’m not trying to tell you that Cubs fans prayed harder than Indians fans did on Wednesday evening, and I’m not going to say that the Cavaliers’ championship was because Pastor Ben’s congregation prayed for it. I don’t even know how much their sports teams actually help the economy. What I am saying is that this church let the gospel pervade their life so much to the point that they watch their baseball team because they want to watch people meet Jesus.
I don’t say this from a point of perfection; I ask these questions to myself as well: What does that Church’s prayer mean for us? Have we let the gospel reach so far in us that even the minuscule aspects of our lives have changed? Do we see God’s relevancy in the not-so-churchy ways?
As we end the week, let us go into the weekend asking, “What decisions – big or small – will glorify God the most?”
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
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Cover Photo: Personal and unrelated