I’m a fan of college football, so on Saturday mornings during the fall, I’ll wake up and get my day going. I get a quick shower, go to my kitchen and pour some coffee,then sit down to watch College Gameday. I sure do love that show. It’s funny, uplifting, informative, and most of all, nostalgic. Another cool little tidbit about Gameday is that they will often make a fan’s dream come true. Usually, the fan they surprise has a terminal illness or disease, and their final wish is to meet the coach of their favorite team, or to step foot onto the grass of the field they’ve been watching their entire life. The short films are produced well. There’s an enormous amount of time spent on them, by what I’m sure is a team of passionate people. As my younger brother Eric and I sat on the couch this past weekend and watched, it was easy to begin feeling emotional after witnessing the story of the young man with cancer getting the chance to live out some of his wildest dreams on his favorite team’s field. Although the moment was nothing short of something beautiful, I began to wonder about the scenario. I turned to my brother and said, “I love when ESPN does these stories, but…”
Here’s the dilemma: We all like to think that we have good character, but let’s ask ourselves some questions for a moment. What are our incentives? What motivates us to do good things? I ask questions like these because I began to wonder about the motivation of the school that hosted the young man in the ESPN short. (Please know that I’ll always give people the benefit of the doubt), BUT- What if ESPN came to the host school and said “We’ve got an idea… we’ve met (insert person’s name and incredibly unfortunate situation) and their last wish is to visit your school and meet your team.” ESPN continues with their hypothetical message to the school’s administration- “Furthermore, we promise and vow to make sure that there will be zero press, air time, or publicity around any part of it, ever….nobody will ever know.”
What would the university say?
Again, I’d like to state that I prefer to give the benefit of my doubt, and assume that the school would do the right thing. But I feel that in a world soaked with the ability to share content and stories from one side of the planet to the other in the blink of an eye, we’re fooling ourselves. Our labels and our reputations are only as good as what we think other people think they are. It doesn’t matter if you do something selfless if nobody sees it, right?
We need to re-calibrate what it means to be selfless. Don’t get me wrong though… if there’s a selfless opportunity served to you in the middle of a busy restaurant, you take it. That’s a no-brainer. However, maybe we should take a step back. We should turn away from the notion how we immediately think about the way we will be portrayed or viewed to the world when we decide to take action. If we’re motived by the image that we create for ourselves through acts of selflessness, then it’s not selflessness at all. What are you doing when nobody’s looking? What are the thoughts you have of others when you don’t say them out loud? If you knew nobody would ever know you helped someone else, would you lift a finger?
There would be moments where I wouldn’t. I don’t look out for anyone but me. I’m human. Only in the past few years have I gained the insight that says the only way for you to look out for yourself and make it worth anything substantial, is to genuinely look out for someone else. Philippians 2:4 says “Look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Everything I feel and everything I’ve said has all been felt and said before. Yet, we continue to forget and forsake our purpose. Just think about the world we could create if suddenly we were all looking out for one another. It’s not easy, I know…but what are you waiting for? You don’t need anyone’s permission to love those who need it most. You can do that as soon as you want. You don’t need a church to do it. You don’t need a gathering, a small group, or even a bible. Can’t we just skip some of the empty motivation? While we often feel content criticizing how other people evangelize and make disciples, how are we doing it if we never move?
My roommate Kyle and I were having a discussion the other day about how at times we feel a distance being created between us and God. He and I are always trying to be better Christ followers, so this is a recurring conversation. I noticed that while we spoke, we were talking about all of the “things” that we do to close the gap between us and our creator. We both rattled off some of what we felt were the ways we do so- “I’ve been praying so much…” I’ve been attending church as often as I can…” “I’ve been listening to sermons and podcasts…” “I’ve been reading my Bible…” Maybe you heard it…
“I, I, I, I, I.” Yep. There’s our mistake. As we spoke, we both gathered the idea that we’ve made it too much about us. We expect there to be some profound reunion with God when we do “Holy things.” Don’t get me wrong, those are fantastic ways to seek God. I do them all, frequently. However, what if we subbed something in, a new rule perhaps? What if we made a rule that said that in order to read your Bible, worship, listen to podcasts, and pray, you had to go love someone else first. It doesn’t matter how, who, when, or why. Do something for someone else before you do something for yourself. That’s how you take care of yourself. You’ll feel a closeness with the Holy Spirit when you pour yourself out for no other reason than love. Jesus loved those least like him. Have an ESPN moment with someone when nobody is looking.
Love is the purest essence of God. His love is complete, unabridged, and relentless. With that said, let’s try not to be complacent in his grace. We all know The Bible is a great guide and resource… but you already know how to love… so do that. Go do what Jesus did. Love. And for the moments where you find yourself without answers, seek the truth. Just remember that if all we do is read the bible and listen to podcasts, it’s like attending every practice and missing every game. Go and win hearts.
If you’re reading this, and you like it…I love you. If you’re reading this and you think I’ve completely lost it, I love you exactly the same.