(Oops, we had a little mix up on day 4 and you may have already read this prayer guide! If this content looks familiar click here for a new prayer guide for today.)
As a lifelong college and professional sports fan, I have always had a small list of teams I have rooted against. While I won’t name the teams and needlessly invite the ire of fans of those teams, I’ll put it this way: When those teams lose, it’s hard for me to contain that slow, cunning Grinch smile. I recently compiled a list of sports teams I dislike to identify a common thread. I quickly realized that my disdain for nearly all of them had little to do with the players and coaches on those teams. I’m sure all those teams are filled with great athletes and great human beings. So why would someone who considers himself a mature Christ follower wish nothing but dropped passes, strikeouts, and lost games for these teams? Look no further than their fans.
Have you ever attended a game in your hometown where the visiting team’s fans were obnoxious, vulgar, rude, arrogant, and totally repulsive? I’ve seen it many times, and I leave each of those games thinking, “I hope their team loses every game going forward.” Without a doubt, my perception of a team’s fan base taints my view of the team itself. In this increasingly divisive culture in which we live, I wonder how many non-believers turn away from Jesus not because of His life and teachings but because of the behavior of people today who identify as “fans” of Christ.
Do you know any Christians who are prideful, arrogant, and judgmental of non-believers? Do you know someone who would rather use disparaging language to win an argument on social media than protect the relationship with that person by finding the delicate balance of truth and grace? Do you know someone who is quick to discard people who don’t look like them, vote like them, or reside in the same economic class as them?
Throughout his 33 years on Earth, Jesus modeled what it looks like to love people unconditionally. In Matthew 9:13, after being reprimanded by Pharisees for eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus said, “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” His life modeled that at every turn. Despite infuriating the “religious” who bathed themselves in self-righteousness, Jesus ministered to the outcasts of his culture, including tax collectors, adulterers, lepers, and Samaritans. In doing so, he reminded the Pharisees in Luke 5:31 that “It is not those who are healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
In a culture where Biblical values are viewed as irrelevant by many and the divide along political, religious, racial and even vaccination lines is greater than ever, how do the “sick” in our culture view you? Are you known as an agitator with a sharp tongue who values being right? Are you the boisterous, arrogant fan in the stands which makes Team Jesus seem so unappealing to those who don’t know Him? Or are you a friend to sinners who focuses on loving all people while making the road to repentance and a relationship with Jesus so enticing? Let’s be clear: In a world influenced by Satan, Jesus says in John 15:18-19 that if you follow Him, the world will hate you just as they did Him. In verse 25, He reminds us, “They hated me for no reason.” But that inevitable hatred for Christ’s followers doesn’t dismiss us from obeying Jesus’s command earlier in the chapter to “love one another as I have loved you.” Another important caveat: The call to love one another doesn’t mean sacrificing Biblical principles to appease the culture. Our views on sin, including marriage, sexual orientation, abortion, and idolatry, should always reflect scripture, no matter how unpopular that makes us.
But being a member of Team Jesus requires that our words and actions reflect our leader. It means treating everyone — including those we dislike — with dignity and respect and sacrificially investing in the welfare of others. Let’s be intentional about making King Jesus enticing to those who don’t know Him in a world that desperately needs Him.
Personal Prayer Focus
Today in prayer, ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal any area of sin that has prevented you from loving people as Christ calls us to. Confess that sin and ask the Lord to transform your heart and renew your mind in those areas. Pray for the power to walk in love in practical ways as you engage with others.
West Ridge Church Prayer Focus
Today let’s pray over the kids of our Kid’s Ministry, the incredible Kid’s Ministry Team that serves week in and week out, and our Kids Ministry Staff (Dee Harris, Brent Moxey, Hayden Hammon, Kellie Jimenez, Dawn Shaffer) as they minister alongside parents to lead our kids as young and devoted followers of Jesus!