Soccer & The Gospel

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I just experienced a really good soccer game tonight. But what most struck me was the cultural experience I had. Soccer culture. I was standing and stomping the whole game, surrounded by the fervent chants of friends and hooligans. “We give you our all!”…”We are your people”… “we are ready for battle!”…”where you play we will follow, we will follow”…”we’ll cheer you on forever & ever!”- these howls of devotion burst from the crowd.
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This made for a fun and lively time. We waved our scarves around, our flags were flailing, fists were pumping in the air, and at times, people lifted their shoe and shirt in hand to show their utter commitment and love for their team. Our corner of the field was jumping up and down, swaying together, arm in arm, like a people united by a common cause.

There was a particular moment at the end of the game that really stood out for me. Most of the stadium cleared out, but the group I was in, the Curva Collective, lingered awhile longer. These lively fans, the remnant, waited patiently, expectantly, for a victorious player to approach our area. This would be a time when the beloved athlete would cross the divide and come to identify with us in the stands. And one came. He joined us as one of us. He chanted with us. Then came the special moment: He made an exchange with us. He took off his glorious jersey in exchange for someone’s common t-shirt. He put on our plain shirt and we (well, just one of us) put on his victorious vestment. Throughout the night – and perhaps for the rest of his life – this fan would have a story to tell, a glory to boast in, a memory to treasure.
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That, no doubt, would be a cool experience to be chosen out of a crowd, to exchange shirts with a great athlete. I’m sure that most of the fans know that they won’t literally chant for the Whitecaps “forever & ever”, but it’s fun to sing with such whole-hearted devotion. Why? Because we were created for something so completely worthy of our everything. We were created to cheer loudly for someone truly glorious, someone worthy of everlasting praise. As a follower of Christ, I have someone who is worthy of my whole life. Jesus is worthy of all of my heart, my time, the shirt off my back. As fun as it was singing the soccer chants to show our support for the team and love for the game, I can’t help but remember that there is someone far greater that I give my full allegiance to.

There is someone, and only one, who was perfectly victorious, glorious, and gracious enough to exchange everything for us. He came from the glory of heaven, crossed the great divide, and put on our common cloth. He became like one on the bleachers. And he chose us, his people, to wear his righteous robe. This is a story worth retelling over and over to those around us. This is a memory to treasure. This is The Gospel. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. While we were still sinners, Christ came to us and died for us. He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become his righteousness.

To him we can wholeheartedly sing, “We give you our all! We are your people. We are ready for battle! Where you play we will follow, we will follow. We’ll cheer you on forever & ever!”

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.”- Revelation 19:6

“To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” – Jude 1:25

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