Growing up football was always my favorite sport. My school was a small Christian school which couldn’t afford a football team, so I went through high school as an oversized tennis player; but my heart was wrapped up in football.
This affection grew through college and continued past it into marriage, graduate school and even parenting. As a result, the fall season became my drug of choice. I love fall weather. I love college football. I love the food that accompanies football. And I am no stranger to the wonderful realm of fantasy football. But chiefly, and probably most unfortunately, I love the Tennessee Titans. And the more I allowed this affection to grow unchecked in my heart, the more I realized I had become enslaved.
You see if the Titans had a bad week. I had a bad week (If you know anything about the Titans…I’ve had a lot of bad weeks). If they had a good week, my heart was granted a one day reprieve, and then my anxiety shifted to the fear of the coming Sunday and the potential of losing.
It became my identity. Football had become my life. Placing such an emphasis on a football team can sound silly, but we all have things like this in our lives which become more than a hobby or job, they become a burden and entrapment. The prospect or item may have once offered you joy, but you soon feel like it is holding your emotions hostage rather than acting as a gracious friend. If I could only live _______, make __________, work ________ then… Fill in the blank.
“When Christ Who Is Your Life…”
Let me just take a few minutes here and walk through a passage which has helped me rebalance my affection and actions here on earth.
Paul gives us a wonderful passage in Colossians 3:1-4, but before he goes very far he prefaces everything with, “If then, you have been raised with Christ” (Col. 3:1). Paul is identifying his audience as people who have been saved by Christ. His following logic only makes sense in light of gospel salvation.
This means there are two kinds of people reading this post: those who claim to believe and those who don’t believe. The point Paul is making is clear, that outside of understanding and knowing Christ personally, we cannot respond to him properly.
Having this assumption Paul says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1-2).
First let me say what Paul is not saying. Paul is not saying earthy things don’t matter. He argues against that logic in Colossians 3:23. A right view of eternal things doesn’t make you a distant and hollow shell of a man here on earth. Instead it actual heightens our enjoyment of things because it provides perspective, context, purpose and weight.
But I think what Paul says next very important. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:3-4).
We all have goals, aspirations and dreams. We want to do something great. We want to achieve something in our career, our lives, our hobbies…etc. And if you are lucky enough to reach whatever that pinnacle is, you will not be surprised.
You will be overwhelmed, overjoyed, awestruck and amazed. But not surprised. Why? Because that’s what you expected of your life. That’s what you were living for. It was the idea of that position that lead you to work harder and stay later. It was it prospect of finishing that marathon that drove you to get up earlier and train a little longer. It was the hope of winning her heart that led you to sure up your knowledge of floral arrangements and chick flicks.
You won’t be surprised on that day because you will see that reward as the portrait of your own passion. You won’t be surprised because in that office/trophy/achievement you see the whole of your life and you will say, “That’s what I was living for.” Will we have that same clarity when we stand before God himself?
What Paul is saying is that one day we will all see Jesus face to face. And there are two ways to respond.
The first option is to see Jesus and say, “That’s not what I expected…I don’t know that man.” And you will be convicted of the emptiness and vanity of your existence here on earth, and it will be a terrifying sight. To not see Jesus as the whole of your life is to not know Jesus in a saving way. Jesus doesn’t fit inside our life, he becomes our life.
But the better option, the gospel option, is to see Jesus as Paul just described. We will look into the eyes of our risen savior and we say, “That’s it!” That’s what I was living for! That’s why I did what I did! That why I lived the way I lived, served the way I served and loved the way I loved.”
And in that day we will appear with him because our hearts and our lives will have already been hidden in him from the hour we first believed. It is this prospect of our life that drives us as Christians. It is this affection which keeps our other emotions in check. And it is this joy which will prove unshakable even amidst a poor football season.