7th August 2017

The Church of Football 

“Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21 (CSB)

Any dedicated football fan looks forward to the start of the new season. Whether the team was successful the previous season or not, each season begins with new hope. Maybe this year we will win the league, avoid relegation, get into the playoffs or win a cup! The success or failure of their football team is in their heart.

Fans will remember past glories when they had a special manager and an exceptional team or a brilliant individual player; when they won something, whether a league, promotion or a cup! They will know the history of their club and the great managers and players of the past. The clubs fortunes are in their memories, their treasures in an earthly sense and their club can be destroyed by the thief of an owner who does not care, does not invest and lets the club rot and slide down the divisions.

Through good and bad times fans will have supported their teams, always hoping for a better season, a change of fortune, a richer owner to buy better footballers and employ a better manager. They turn out regularly for home games and many will travel to every away game at considerable expense.

You could argue that football is their religion and the club ground is their church. Yet should we not have the same loyalty, enthusiasm and passion in our church services, but without the bad language that is sometimes heard in a football crowd. Christians can learn from football fans who are there every week to support their team. Are we at church every week? Do Christians have the same loyalty to God that football fans have for their team? Are we passionate and enthusiastic about our beliefs, do we know the stories of the men and women of the Bible in the same way football fans will know the key players in their team’s past successes? Do we talk about our faith and belief with the same interest and enthusiasm that football fans have in dissecting their team’s performance in the last match?

Of course, I recognise there are differences between football fans at a match and Christians at a service, and differences in the way we would share our beliefs. But let’s not be too proud to acknowledge that Christians can learn something about living their faith and belief from the loyalty, faith and belief football fans have in their team. There is nothing wrong with being a Christian and a football fan, providing you know the difference between the church and the club, and your treasure is in heaven, not in the temporary success or failure of your team (Matthew 6:33). After all, football fans are ‘living the dream’ for temporary success; but Christians know they are on the only winning team in the game of life!

Prayer
Father, help us to enjoy the entertainments of this world in a balanced way, remembering that all these things are temporary and to seek first the permanency of your kingdom and the incredible blessings that will result from doing so. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Keith Hartrick

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About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds, and serves on the Church Council there.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association
Community Centre
Pendas Way
LEEDS LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: malcolm701@googlemail.com

Summer Educational Programme
S.E.P. is a two-week summer activity camp that takes place on the bank of Loch Lomond, Scotland. It is sponsored and run by the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International. The camp is Christian in ethos but accepts campers from all denominations and faiths. For more information about S.E.P. visit www.sepuk.org

You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.