The Citrus Bowl was awash with purple.
Faithful fan that I am, I was decked out in the purple emblem. Compliments of my daughter.
The Orlando City Lions, central Florida’s MLS team, had its opening game. And thanks to my sweet friend, Leanne, and her husband who took my husband on a business trip at just the right time, I got to go on her season tickets.
I’ve only watched the Lions’ games on TV, where I have free reign to call things as I see them. However, I was only one of over 60,000 fans in attendance.
At least 50,000 of them were louder than me.
Going to an event such as this is so much more than the game itself. It’s an experience.
People began arriving at 8:00 to set up for tailgate parties. There were tents, barbecues and drinks galore. People paraded around in Lions’ scarves and purple tutus, with hair and skin dyed purple.
When we entered the stadium, it was something of a holy moment. People were talking about their hopes for this season. They spoke of coaches and trainers as if they were clergy who offer insight and help for each of the player’s games.
Folks unanimously looked at the referees as somewhat less heavenly.
The game itself was amazing. People chanted and screamed. The referees handed out yellow and red cards as if they were gifts. By the middle of the second half, both teams were down a player.
The Lions two support groups, the Iron Lions Firm and the Ruckus, sat behind the goal at one end of the field. Cued up like a choir, to the beat of drums, they sang throughout the game.
At the end of regulation time, we were behind 0-2. Folks began to leave.
In the last minute of stoppage time, the Lions miraculously scored two goals. A tie.
You’d have thought every person in that stadium had just won the lottery.
Fans went wild. People hugged and high-fived strangers. There was screaming and laughing and cries of, “I don’t believe it!”
There was more unity, more hope and joy, more passion in that stadium than I’ve seen in a long time.
All for a soccer game.
I love soccer just as much as the next person. But folks left there no richer, no better, no different than when they got there. They’d watched a game that didn’t change their lives, affect their future, or give them answers to tough life questions.
As I sat in the midst of the hoopla, I wondered if I was this passionate about Jesus. Who has saved me from death and forgiven all my dark ways. Who has given me hope and a new life. For eternity.
If I talked about Jesus the way fans talk about the Lions, I’d be called a fanatic.
It wouldn’t be a compliment.
We’re judged by our passions.
If my passion for Jesus makes others uncomfortable or disagreeable, do I reign in my joy to make others feel better?
Or do I choose to joyfully proclaim the excitement I have in knowing the God of the universe?
Who and what are you passionate about?
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