I love the start of football season – the college games, the NFL games, the reports on Sports Center, the sports talk shows – all of it. I usually go to two or three games a year, and I like the bands, the pageantry, the enthusiasm, and the whole atmosphere.

Football is a great spectator sport, but Christianity is not. Sitting on the sidelines watching football is fun, but sitting on the sidelines of our Christian faith is not. Watching others play football and cheering (or criticizing them) is OK, but being a Christian is not about watching others live their faith. Christianity calls us to get involved, to participate, and to be team players.

Think about it … when Jesus called his disciples, he called them to join him, follow him, learn from him, and share the ministry with him.

Jesus also called together a team, a group of disciples who were trained to work together. It is very significant that the first four disciples Jesus called were two sets of brothers (Andrew and Simon, James and John) who were used to working together. In fact, many scholars believe that all four of them worked together in a fishing business. At least we know that they were sets of brothers, family, and a “team” in many ways. It is as if Jesus started his ministry emphasizing teamwork, cooperation, and what we now call Christian community.

To be a part of such teamwork and community is far different from sitting on the sidelines, going to church to watch the pastor do ministry, or being just a passive believer. Christianity is not a spectator sport.

So enjoy watching the football games, but don’t be let the box score indicate next to your name DNP (did not participate).

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church