Even if I say it myself, I am rather good at those ‘spot the difference’ competitions!
I can usually wean out the most microscopic of differences in two cartoon pictures. So it was, that while attending the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, I suddenly found myself playing ‘spot the difference’.
As I sat with 45,000 other fans at Ibrox enjoying the Rugby Sevens final, I began to ponder why my experience of this sporting spectacle was so vastly different from my experience of the Church. For one thing, the Ibrox crowd had passion. Each time a try was scored, or even a team came close to scoring, the crowd roared as one.
Do I find such passion in today’s Church? There have been times of passion, certainly. In Hebrews we read of the early Christians having such a passion for their faith in Jesus that they were willing to be torn apart by lions or used as human torches.
But today? If many of us Church folk were to go on trial for our faith, would there be enough evidence to convict us? Where is our passion? Or is Church just a hobby rather than a consuming way of life?
The second difference was the Ibrox crowd were on the side of the under dog. Uganda was the favoured team, simply because they couldn’t play for toffee! Each time they appeared, “Ugan-Da” rang out across the stadium.
Is the Christian Church always on the side of the poor and dispossessed or does it find it easier, more comfortable, to side with the powerful and wealthy?
The final difference was in team spirit. No matter the team, whether the mighty All Blacks or little Sri Lanka, the team played as one. No one player dominated, nor looked to his own interests.
Yet, what do we often find in the Church? Competing denominations, congregations more concerned with their own survival than the spread of the gospel, even conflicting factions within congregations. If we were to play a sport like that we would almost certainly never win a competition.
Spot the difference. The Commonwealth Games was a fantastic experience. Glasgow was amazing.
But now it is over, I am wondering, was God saying something to the Church through the success of those wonderful athletes?
Rev. Roderick Grahame