I date myself, because I grew up when MTV played music videos, guys in bands looked like girls, and there was this thing in the middle of a song called “a guitar solo;” remember that? Back in 1991, R.E.M. released a hit single, “Losing my religion,” but before this became popular, “losing my religion” was used and is still used for people who act in such a way as to forget “who they are.” It is a statement that expresses the loss of ones “temper or civility.”
Christians have a tendency to “lose their religion.” Often in the privacy of our own homes, out of the public or ministerial spotlight, we don’t act “like we are at church.” Any double-agent spirituality should be repented of, especially to our family members.
But one of the most common ways we “lose our religion” is in public, on the field of competition. Men especially have a tendency to hang their faith on the door knob and leave behind Christian virtue in the pursuit of victory, validation, and “the win.”
I saw it in full color over the summer. It was at a Christian Camp, a weekend for Dads and their sons. The basketball court was transformed into an arena for a no-holds-barred game of DODGEBALL. With the only rules being, here’s the line, you get hit, you are out, you catch the ball, you bring one of your guys back in, last guy standing untouched is the winner. Simple.
You should have seen it…it was a blood bath…young kids as little as age 7 playing alongside guys 3 times their size and 5 times their age. My son and I stood against the wall in amazement and fear as balls were launched like missiles at the unsuspecting opposing team. Balls coming from every angle met legs, arms, stomachs and heads. Everyone survived, but the lesson taught from some was that ‘the rules didn’t apply to them.”
My son noticed Dads getting hit, but not exiting the game. Their intense competition kept them in this life and death struggle. They didn’t get hit, it was only a “near miss.” No big deal some may say…but that weekend, my son said, “Daddy…some of those Dad’s were not honest…they didn’t go out when they were hit.” He was right…
We “lose our religion” when we sacrifice truth, virtue, compassion, kindness, and basic sportsmanship on or off the field to win the game. In doing so, we will always lose more of our character and witness than any victory could ever deliver.
For Christians, playing hard is admirable, but being dishonest is dishonoring to the One whose name we bare.