There have been many times I can remember jumping off my couch to cheer on my favorite football team while watching a big game. With fists pumping, I would scream out the word “touchdown!” at the top of my lungs. In that moment, I didn’t care who heard me. I was completely into the game and so was everyone else in the room. Something about the intensity of this full-contact sport almost demands that kind of enthusiasm, doesn’t it? With a lot of important games coming up soon, it got me thinking — should Christians have that same kind of enthusiasm for God? Is that even a fair comparison?
I’m definitely not the first person to ever pose this question. I must have heard it 100 times from pastors growing up in a pentecostal church. For those who don’t know, in pentecostal churches the congregations tend to outwardly show their excitement for God. Sometimes, though, that fervor on any given Sunday could dwindle. Many times, this unusual lack of passion would lead the pastor to make a comparison between the energy in church that day and a typical football game. Christians should be as excited about meeting with God in church as they would be to be at a football game, or even just watching a football game at home, the pastors believed.
In one sense, these pastors were completely right. As Christians, we should have more intensity when it comes to serving and worshiping God than we do rooting for our favorite football teams. On the other hand, intensity can be displayed in different ways. Some people, myself included, can show intensity quietly, through intently focusing. Whenever I found myself in the congregation of a church service, it is with this type of intensity that I chose to worship God. It is not that I cared what the person beside me thought, it is honestly how I chose to worship.
Whenever a pastor would make the football game/church comparison, I would be left wondering if maybe I wasn’t as good of a Christian as I thought I was. It is true that I can jump up out of my seat with the best of them during a climactic, gridiron moment, but aren’t God and football two completely different things?
The Bible clearly tells us in Psalm 47:1 to, "Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy." I am definitely not opposed to that kind of praise and do it myself, but my most meaningful encounters with God always happen in the softer moments, when I am chasing him with a quiet intensity. This can happen during a fast song, a slow song, or at any point during a church service. It really doesn’t matter to me.
The fact is, we all worship God in our own way. Thankfully, He understands this because He created us all to be unique individuals. The way I choose to worship is an extension of my personality. We should all be willing to go outside of our comfort zones for God but at the same time, not be afraid to go after Him in the way we feel led. Any Christian will hopefully tell you that God is more important to them than football. It is up to us, though, to show God that He is more important in our own way.