Consider the following incident…
An Auburn Tigers fan, a South Carolina Gamecocks fan, a Florida Gators fan, and a Georgia Bulldogs fan were once climbing a mountain and arguing about who loved his team more.
The Auburn fan insisted he was the most loyal. To prove it, he suddenly yelled, 'This is for the Tigers!' Whereupon, he jumped right off the side of the mountain.
Seeing this, and not to be outdone, the South Carolina fan shouted, 'This is for the Gamecocks!' and then threw himself off the mountain.
The Bulldog fan was next to profess his love for his team. He screamed out loud and clear, 'This is for everyone!', and then immediately pushed the Gator fan off the mountain!
Now, most everyone who knows me knows two or three things about me.
First I am an avid Bulldog fan. I grew up in Georgia and have fond memories of Larry Munson beseeching those “hairy dawgs” to hunker down one more time while the sugar "was falling from the sky!"*
Second, as a general rule, I certainly do not advocate violence against people, and especially not for something as simple as what football team they root for.
Lastly, I look for sermon illustrations everywhere. And I think I have found one here.
As the 2014 football season heats up, some teams will fare well and others will not. Of course, next year, or next decade, perhaps, things will be reversed, and those faring well now will not be by then, and vice versa. At the moment, however, caught up in the passion, many people will either be all happy and excited or else increasingly disappointed and depressed.
But while I like football, I do not know that the win/loss record of my favorite team needs to be the determinative factor in my level of happiness in life. Quite frankly, psychologists tell us that adolescence does not even technically end until age 24. And as more than one pundit has put it, my self-worth does not need to be attached to what a group of adolescent males do on a given Friday or Saturday night!
Upon what then should my happiness be based? The Bible answers that question with the following statement:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8) The word here translated as “blessed” is the Hebrew word “eh'-sher”, which means to be in a state of happiness.
Later, in the New Testament, Jesus taught extensively on the subject of happiness. He did so in His famous “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in the 5th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel in a section known as the “Beatitudes”, when He said…
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Here Jesus repeatedly uses the word “Blessed”. The original word is the New Testament Greek term “makarioi”, which comes from a root word meaning “happy”. He even concludes this portion of His teaching with the admonition to “Rejoice and be glad.” Little wonder then that this passage is sometimes lovingly referred to as the “Be-Happy-Attitudes”!
What Jesus is telling us is essentially the same as the Psalmist had said earlier. Our genuine happiness is only to be found in our relationship to God and in our willingness to live by His desires. If we seek happiness anywhere else, we are going to be disappointed. But if we seek it in Him, we will find it. Why is this? Because God alone is faithful, true, and everlasting. All else is fleeting, temporary, and thus deceptive.
My feelings toward the rival Florida Gators notwithstanding, Tim Tebow understood this. And he repeatedly communicated this great truth in his playing days. Many people simply could not grasp how he could affirm that there was something more important in his life than football. But those who did, and who sought to discover for themselves what his happiness was based upon, soon enjoyed the same for themselves.
The same holds true for you. “Taste and see that the Lord is good...” You will not be disappointed.
*Larry Munson was the long time radio play by play man for the Bulldogs, “hunker down” was his celebrated admonition for the Georgia Defense to stop Auburn’s Offense in a famed goal line stand, and the “sugar falling from the sky” was a reminder that what was at stake was a trip to the1982 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans!
Larry Munson’s most famous football calls can be found at: http://espn.go.com/blog/colleges/georgia/post/_/id/484/larry-munsons-top-10-favorite-calls.
YouTube has several videos as well. Cf.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMi9nwILsu4.
Lastly, the joke was based on an NFL Version which can be found at: http://www.jokes4us.com/sportsjokes/footballjokes.html.