How can New Life justify rearranging our weekend schedule for a football game?
I admit at first glance honoring the Sabbath and cheering on the Hawks seem like two opposing ideas. On the outside, faith and football seem opposed. It appears like these two ideas shouldn’t be in the same sentence, let alone together at church!
I love this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” Jesus taught people to think deeper. He was famous for saying, “You have heard it said…but I tell you…” Jesus constantly challenged us to go deeper, to think again, and to understand what is really being said.
These are honest and fair questions. If you wrestle with the question of football and the Sabbath I understand. If you disagree with my conclusions, there’s no judgment on my part. The late Dr. Pecota, one of my professors, said this: “To disagree with an honorable man is not to dishonor him.”
Some background may help you understand why I wrestled so deeply with this question.
My story is a story of God’s grace and mercy. I surrendered my life to Jesus at the age of 13. Raised in a broken home, God restored my life and called me to preach. Early on I developed a deep conviction: “Be at church every time the doors are open.” This was so ingrained in me that Jana and I went to church on the Sunday night of our honeymoon! And when Kaylee was born on a Sunday, I was at church that night. Devoted? Certainly. Some would argue this is spirituality; some, perhaps a little “over the top.”
So I understand commitment to church. I have given my whole life to church gatherings. Trust me – I get your hesitations. But here is the problem: at times, if I am being totally honest, I was more committed to church than to Jesus. I had a tendency to be more faithful to listening to another sermon than to listening to God Himself.
Who changed my perspective about the Sabbath? One answer: Jesus! Studying His life and principles radically changed me. While in high school, I memorized half the New Testament. Jesus radically transformed my mind about everything.
Today I am more committed than ever to the Sabbath; however, it’s founded on solid theology, not on man-made rules.
You may agree or disagree with my decision about a Seahawks game being shown at NL on Sunday. I’m comfortable with disagreement. Debate and discussion is very healthy when done correctly.
Here is why New Life believes you can love Jesus, honor the Sabbath and cheer on the Hawks:
- Read the four gospels again. When is the last time you read the gospels like it was your first time? Jesus was always sharing a meal with someone! Jesus looked for reasons to celebrate.In his book, A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester writes: “In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.” Many significant moments and miracles happened with Jesus during meals and celebrations. In Luke 5, Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners. In Luke 7, Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal. Chapter 9 tells of Jesus feeding the five thousand; Luke 10 says Jesus finds two sisters mourning about their dead brother and comforts them. In Luke 19, Jesus sees a man name Zacchaeus and invites Himself to dinner. And in chapter 22, a scene known to so many, Jesus is having dinner with the 12 disciples and performs the first Communion.
- While wrestling with the questions about Seahawks and church service, I could not get another question out of my mind: “What would Jesus do?” I had to ask, “If Jesus was on earth today – this weekend – what would He do?” I am convinced Jesus would attend church AND watch the game. I could see Jesus watching this game in a large gathering or even in a home with His disciples. I am not being facetious – I truly believe Jesus would be a football fan.
- Deep community breaks down the weird stereotypes our culture has about church and church people. This is the picture painted by a recent survey when people were asked what they felt about Christians: 91% said we are homophobic, 87% judgmental, 85% old fashioned, 75 % said we are too involved in politics. My goal is for every unbeliever to watch the game or have a cup a coffee with an authentic Christ follower! They will discover we are simply sinners who need a savior – Jesus.
- Authentic community draws people to Jesus. The early church had such real community that people got saved! Acts 2:47 tells us the early church was “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
- Discipleship happens when we share a meal together. Tim Chester says about Jesus: “He did evangelism and discipleship round a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.” Think about it. If you want to get close to someone…eat with them. This is why families need to protect meal times together. This is one of my life mantras: if you play with them, they will pray with you. Think about this for a moment. Parents, if your home is fun, your kids may want your Jesus.
- Jesus did his first miracle at a wedding. Not in a church gathering. Miracles can happen in any environment – including a party! We limit God’s presence to church gatherings. God wants to show up at your Seahawks party. Whether you are watching the game with your family, a group of friends, or at New Life this weekend, look for God moments and God conversations.
- Jesus set the record straight about the Sabbath. In Matthew 12, the disciples were picking heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath. Because Jesus didn’t stop them, the religious people got mad at Him. How dare Jesus allow His disciples to eat grain on the Sabbath! Then Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath…and again the religious people got upset. Jesus set the record straight about the Sabbath: the Sabbath isn’t about following rules, but about rest and worship.
I would love for you to join us this weekend! Our Saturday night service will be at 6 PM. Arrive early. The place will be packed. Wear your Seahawks gear!
Sunday morning services will be moved to a 9:00 AM start at both of our campuses. At 10:00 AM the Seahawks’ game begins. We will have big screens at both campuses, free food at the Maple Valley campus, food trucks at the Renton Campus and fun activities for the kids to enjoy.
If you typically attend the 11:15 service, this is a perfect time to check out the first service or Saturday night at 6 PM.
Come enjoy good fellowship – and football – in an environment that lifts up Jesus…and has fun at the same time.