You know that obnoxious person on your Fantasy Football team who has absolutely no business being there? They own an official jersey for their favorite team, but you’re pretty confident they wouldn’t be able to pick out their team’s starting QB in a lineup of three people; they rarely watch any games so they foolishly place all their strategy eggs in the “projected points” basket on any given week; they have the nerve to use an outdated “egg” idiom to describe football.
My name is Carrye, and I’m that obnoxious person. (Nice to meet you.)
For all the reasons I don’t really belong in my fantasy league, I admit I’m becoming a bit obsessed with it. I’m tracking player injuries, add/dropping players like a boss, and occasionally staying up way past my bedtime on Monday nights to see if I pulled out ahead of my fantasy opponent.
But here’s my problem- I’m so devoted to the fantasy part of football that I’m completely missing the non-fantasy point. Let me explain.
Exhibit A- Week 5: Vikings Vs Bears
I was losing by a hair going into Monday night’s game, and had placed my only hope in the questionably capable hands of Minnesota’s Adam Thielen. I’d read stats that suggested he was performing better than expected. Then again, I only hear the stats I want to hear. I was optimistic about pulling ahead until I looked at my opponent’s final player- Stefon Diggs. Through painstaking research I discovered a little known fact: both players were on the same team. I know…my powers of observation are keen.
I won’t bore you with how football works, since you probably know the basics: endzones, tight pants, those yard lines that magically appear on the TV aren’t really on the field, and all that jazz. But the bottom line is that two teams play against each other to see who gets more points. (Call me Captain Obvious but I’m setting up a point I promise.)
In my great desire to win a fantasy game, I changed the goal of the game to “how can my player on the same team beat his fellow teammate?” Not team vs. team. No glorious community win. I pitted brother against brother because my focus was on a fantasy issue- a decoy problem that distracted me from the real-life, larger purpose of football. The Vikings won (actual goal met) but I sulked over a personal fantasy loss of .4 points. (My player did score more points, though. So. Yeah.)
Where’s the theology in all this convoluted fantasy football analogy?
It doesn’t take a lot of digging today to find ways to disagree with those around us. It’s practically an epidemic, and trust me I’ve been infected. Of all the divisions though, the Christian vs. Christian rifts are the most sobering and appalling for me. Unlike fantasy football, many of the issues we disagree with aren’t skin deep- they are places we have strong convictions about and strong emotions over. I’m not suggesting we bury our convictions or stop taking a stand for the justice around us. (Ask for discernment.)
But sometimes in our division we get so focused on where we disagree that we lose sight of the “ultimate purpose” of following God (pursuing peace, justice, love and freedom with God), and instead focus on the “decoy purpose” of being right…or feeling justified…or proving someone else wrong.
(Guilty as charged.)
Colossians 3:12-15 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” [Emphasis mine]
There are a million problems with the world, and we are called to step out and make a difference hand in hand with our brothers and sisters. But for myself (maybe you can relate) I need to ask myself what it looks like to pursue the real life goals of peace and justice with brothers and sisters that I don’t always agree with. What does it look like to bear with others, forgive grievances, and find peace as members of one body or team? That’s a real life-changing goal. And unlike the ease of my fantasy click and drag investment, it’s going to require real life sacrifice and sweat. And it will probably take a lot of practice.
Still… I’d rather stop caring about a .4 point loss striving against a decoy enemy and instead enjoy the victory of a messy community that disagrees sometimes but chooses to work together to love and serve the world anyway. In the meantime, my ESPN app is calling…
Your thoughts? I don’t have many answers here. Where are the places that we can stand up with our fellow brothers and sisters to give freedom, hope and justice to others?