114.4 million. That’s how many viewers watched Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday. At one point more than 120 million people participated in the holiday of all holidays in American culture. More than 78% of the televisions that were on were tuned to the Super Bowl. There’s something inspiring about that and a little scary… In a country where only a shade more than a third of eligible voters think its important enough to vote for its representatives in Congress and for state and local leaders, it’s at least nice to know something will bring us together. Even if it is a football game. Of course, it’s about more than a football game. It’s about the $4.5 million commercials (which were at least refreshingly family-focused – if somewhat misguided at times), it’s about Katy Perry, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz, it’s about the spectacle. For those that didn’t watch all the glitz, fireworks, and play-calling, they certainly couldn’t escape the talk about it yesterday and today.
For the most part we are pretty divided nation – maybe more than any time since the Civil War. Race relations have not been this bad since the 1960s. Political discord today rivals that of the Federalist/Anti-federalist days at the birth of our nation. But the importance of a football game… oh yeah!
Unfortunately, the discord that flows through the veins of our national identity has translated into strife in the Church. I have been SHOCKED at how the worship wars have kicked back up lately as I have seen more than a few blog posts (like this one or this one) erroneously belittling worship styles and lauding others without much in the way of theological evidence, ecclesiastical weight, or contextual understanding. (As an aside, I truly love most worship environments and see positives and negatives in them all). I read jokes about the technologically-savvy pastor who uses an iPad to preach from (something I do), and I’ve heard jokes cracked about the old preacher who is computer illiterate and behind the times. Denominations and congregations splinter over the political implications of social issues. And Christians disagree on why the “young people” are leaving the church. It seems in the last few years the Church (at least the Church of the North American variety) has become more and more fractured… over seemingly inconsequential things.
I’m not making a case for denying the importance of theological integrity or the supremacy of Scripture or engaging in thoughtful worship or not taking a stand on social issues, but aren’t we just the least bit embarrassed that we, people who claim to follow one Lord Jesus Christ, divide over trivial things when a polarized nation can unite over something as silly as a football game?
We have the greatest reason to be united. We have Jesus. The author of our faith. The giver of life. The beginning. The end. The savior. The Lord. The sacrifice. The redeemer. The resurrected one. The great and holy. The matchless. The majestic. The humbled one. The exalted one.
We were all dead – now we are alive. Not because we have the right worship style. Not because we have our theology worked out perfectly. Not because we utilize technology or don’t. Not because we have all the ministry answers out there. We were dead, and Jesus made us alive.
Sometimes I think Christians like the division. Sometimes I think we like the arguments. It’s a nice diversion from doing the real work. It means we don’t have to talk to people with which we disagree and maybe work together to tell others about Jesus and help bring other dead people to life. It means we can be stuck in our pride and forget that we follow someone who carried a cross.
2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:1-2 (ESV)