“…I have no idea what I do for a living!
– Mark Lowry, “Flying With a Baby”
In America, fall is the season for football. Here in the Buckeye state, that means Ohio State football. Go Bucs! So, it’s no surprise that Pastor Jim mentioned football today during a rousing sermon about the New Covenant. Indirectly, he invited our response by suggesting that we oughta celebrate Jesus like a Buckeye touchdown. There was a noticeable tension in the air and a handful of amens scattered about the auditorium.
I sensed his disappointment that people didn’t rise to their feet and share high-fives. I’ll admit my first thought was to stand and give the touchdown signal. I resisted the temptation. And I had visions of others doing touchdown celebration dances in the aisles. Apparently they resisted, too. I wonder, would the response have been different if Pastor Jim had been more specific about his expectations? That is, did we need permission to act outside of our conservative church protocol?
Instead of acting like a crazy sports fanatic in a place of worship, I remained safely within established church protocol and channeled my enthusiasm into jotting down the following thoughts about this metaphor:
- Thought #1: The touchdown signal resembles arms reaching up to God. (There once was a giant statue on I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati nicknamed “Touchdown Jesus.”)
- Thought #2: 2000 years ago, Jesus touched down on earth so that we might touch God.
- Thought #3: As our beloved Buckeyes march down field toward the endzone, anticipation turns to cheers of excitement when the ball crosses the the goal line. Jesus was God’s offense against sin and death. His death and resurrection are a spiritual touchdown that cannot be matched by any other event.
- Thought #4: We celebrate football touchdowns. Therefore, we should celebrate Jesus even more, even in church!
Protocols reflect culture. Cultures change one person at a time. Would a more demonstrative response this morning from one inspired person have kicked off a cultural change in our congregation? I don’t know. What I do know is that touchdown celebration dances have been added to our church’s playbook. Who will be the first to call that play?
As time goes on I become more convinced that many of the problems we face are the direct result of trying to compartmentalize the different parts of our lives, sometimes going as far as having different principles for each. Lately I’ve been trying to tear down these silos in my own life and live with a commitment toward greater alignment between my values and my words, attitudes and actions.
While I’m convinced this is the right move, it is not without its hazards — focus for one has become a casualty. So often I’ll find myself listening to a sermon at church and thinking, that’s a great theme for this week’s business presentation or thinking a “God-thought” during a business meeting. This apparent lack of focus can be downright frustrating. Then again, I’m convinced that it’s the way I should have been living all along, as one person with just one set of values and beliefs, who happens to wear many hats. There is something very liberating about being my true self at all times. Becoming more genuine means there isn’t as much to remember because I am no longer a slave to the opinions of others. I’m smiling just thinking about this rediscovered freedom!
Another hazard will happen when people discover the new me (or is it the real me they didn’t know because of my silos?) Will they be confused? Will they be afraid? Will they think I’ve changed? Well yes, I am changing. But, only in the sense that I’m changing back into just one person. Good-bye schizophrenia! Will they think I “got religion?” (I’m smiling again.)
One way I feel the change is in my willingness to admit a goof-up. I’m not talking about moral failings as much as those trivial flubs that make me look like a klutz or a dope. It’s a lot easier to laugh about them. If people want to think I’m a big dummy, let them! (I just did 10 more reps with the smile muscles.)
Where in your life can you become more genuine? You don’t have to surrender the private parts of your life with the whole world. You do have to make sure they are in full alignment with your true values. Then you too can be liberated.