Celebrating the Wins: What Fans at a Soccer Match Can Teach Us in the Church

In the above video from ArsenalFanTV, we have footage of a recent English Premiere League match between Arsenal (go Gunners!) and West Bromich Albion (hereafter, West Brom). The footage took place after regulation, after 30 minutes of extra time, and during each team’s designated five penalty kicks. Whoever had the most-after five penalties, won the match.

In this clip, we notice a few things that can teach the church much about celebrating the wins. We are in this together. So….

First, celebrate the wins along the way vigorously! How do you imagine those whom Jesus healed reacted to their healing? Lepers were cleansed, the blind were healed, the lame walked. They weren’t quiet, old school church folks. They rejoiced!

When Jesus shows up at your worship gathering and in your life, do you use the reason for being reverent as an excuse for taking this for granted? May it never be! Rejoice!

Weep with those who weep compassionately. Did you see how hard they took the opponent’s score? Or their team’s miss? Heads were in hands, mumbling, grumbling–it was the end of the world.

This is not how we weep with those who weep. Christ has the world in his hand–we do not react as if it’s the end of the world, but we run to the Creator and Redeemer of the world (Colossians 1:15-17)? “Weeping May last for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 126:3).

Live with the tension of expectation in-between those times. Did you see how quiet and tense the fans became just prior to the penalty kicks? They were dying tiny deaths. The tension they experienced was palpable! Any sports fan understands!

We live between the times–the time of Jesus’ ascension to the Father and his ever-approaching return for His elect. And between the times are between more sub-times when we waiting for what God has in store, being joy or sorrow, adversity or rest. It’s the tension of the ordinary life. We stay obedient in the meantime and for all-time!

We are in a marathon, not a sprint.. The Premiere League lasts from August until May! Translation: it’s a long, long season. Baseball fans understand, following their teams for 162 games. Again, a long season!

Paul calls the Christian life a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). This race isn’t just for a season of our lives–it is our very lives! We do not know how long our lives will be, but we do know that we will not always get it right. We must not be cavalier about sin, but we must also recognize we are no longer under law but under grace. All during our race, our Savior is interceding for us–in fact, He lives for that (Romans 8:26-30, Hebrews 7:25). When we fail, we know we are His and we are kept. If we confess our sins, He faithfully forgives us and cleanses us (1 John 1:9). Don’t give up! Persevere! The Son and the Spirit are praying to the Father on your behalf!

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