The Real National Champ

We are entering the most unproductive work week in America: March Madness.  The NCAA Basketball Tournament has historically driven basketball fans to forgo their work responsibilities in favor of sneaking a peak at the games, losing a combined 1.7 billion dollars.  There are actually apps and programs created to help you live stream the games and at the click of a button shift your computer screen to a fake Excel spreadsheet, making it LOOK like you’re actually working.  You know, in case the boss just so happens to walk by.

Lucky for guys like me, I am on Spring Break and don’t have to worry about work.  Which works out pretty well because my Kansas Jayhawks are the overall number one seed in the tournament this year!  My temptations will come from elsewhere.  As the games tip off tomorrow, I will have my boys clinging on me, asking me to run around and play Ninja Turtles with them.  My wife might want some much deserved time off since she stays home with them during the work week.  And I will have the make the decision between the importance of family and basketball.

Do you ever run into situations when you have to choose between two high stakes priorities?  What priority comes first in your life?  I struggle with that during March Madness a bit.  My flesh wants me to lock myself in a room to watch the big games.  In my past life as a bachelor, I would park myself in front of the TV for twelve straight hours, pausing only to swipe a fistful of lunch meat and a bag of chips for fuel.  Priorities were not much of an issue for me.  I didn’t have as many!  But through the years I began to learn about an ugly word called idolatry, and I soon realized that I was idolizing sports.

Where are your priorities?  Is there anything you happen to be putting as an idol before God?  Exodus 20: 3 states, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  I used to think I was in the clear on this one.  I wasn’t creating any golden calf like the Israelites did when Moses was receiving the 10 commandments.  I wasn’t worshipping Baal.  Then as I came to Christ beginning in the summer of 2012, I realized that I had quite a few idols in my life.  My love for sports.  Video games.  TV and movies.  I began recognizing them and trying to slide them to the back burner.  God began leading me to put Him first in my life.

But those are easy ones.  Petty compared to what Jesus calls out to some supposed followers in Luke chapter 9.  One man asks if he can go bury his father.  Another says he wants to go say goodbye to his family.  You would think that Jesus would be a little forgiving here and allow this, but He doesn’t.  Even family can be an idol in the eyes of Christ.  Jesus knew that the top priority should be spreading God’s love, so He replies, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9: 60).  Family.  Work.  Friends.  These are high stakes priorities that God still wants us to put behind our top priority: Him.  Following His commandments means dropping everything.

Now, let’s get something straight.  These things are not bad.  God blessed us with so many incredible things on earth, and He wants us to enjoy them all.  We just can’t overdo it.  Balancing God’s blessings is like a circus clown juggling a handful of balls.  There are so many of them, and sure, there are times when we drop a ball or two.  That’s where God’s grace comes in handy.  But there is one ball that we simply cannot drop, and that ball belongs to God.  He wants us to attend church weekly, pray without ceasing, and dig into His Word daily.  God wants to be our top priority no matter what.  He doesn’t tolerate rivals.

If God was on your bracket, would He be the number one seed?  Or would something else take His place?  I don’t know about you, but I want God to clean house.  I want Him to sweep through my bracket with no close buzzer-beaters.  No miracle comebacks.  No devastating upsets.  God should be penciled in as the national champion before I even write in the other team names.  Is He the same in your bracket?  God is the real deal.  He should be everyone’s top pick.  No questions asked.

(When I realize God is losing out to other idols in my life, I have to remember that the game is not over.  Listen to For King and Country’s “Not Over Yet” below for that powerful reminder.)

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