Monday, January 1, 2007

Saint or Demon? Neither I’m a Tiger!

In the New Testament, Christians are called, “... a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people …” (1 Peter 2: 9.) Wonderful stuff and oh so very true. Yet elsewhere it also says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and we do not do what is true, but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanse us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”(1 John 1: 6 – 8.) This argues quite strongly that not all who claim to be Christians are, despite their words of confession. So then, my question for today is, what are we? Saints or Sinners? Are you a Saint or a Demon?

Well I can’t speak for you but I’m a Tiger!

In Melbourne, Australian Rules Football is king. Some have even called it our own unique religion, with people more committed to their particular team than to anything else.

Within ARF, the former Victorian Football League was the supreme pinnacle of every ARF player. In my youth there were only 12 teams and 11 came from the suburbs around Melbourne and the 12th from about 90kms away. Later one Team moved to Sydney and later again others were formed interstate and now the VFL is the AFL and there are 16 teams based or semi-based around various parts of Australia.

But in my youth there were only 12 teams and each was named after the suburb it was in and had a Nickname by which it and its supporters were known. Melbourne was called the Demons, St Kilda, the saints, Collingwood the Magpies, Geelong the Cats, South Melbourne supporters were called Swans, till the Club was moved to Sydney, hence forth they were known as the Sydney Swans. I won’t go through all the teams but will conclude with the mighty Tigers, from Richmond.

All Melbournians have to support a team even if the support is pretty nominal. I suspect, from my memory that originally I may have supported the Magpies but from an early age I recall changing to support the Tigers, which was the team of (a father and son,) family friends. Later, in my mid to late teens, I became even more interested in the Tigers and in 1968 went to all their home games accept for one when I had to work.

After that I lost some interest in them but still followed them. At least till they, in my opinion, unfairly sacked their Coach. I then supported the team he went to – the Magpies. I still followed him when he went from there to the Cats; but completely lost interest when he went to the Swans.

Of course around this time I got married, had children and became a Christian, so you can see there were plenty of things to fill in my time. This time was followed by time in training for Missionary service overseas which culminated with 12 years spent serving God and His church in Southern Africa (Transkei & South Africa).

Upon our return from there I took on a job in the public eye, where I was inevitably asked what “Footy” team I followed. At that time, although I no longer had any real interest in Footy, my thoughts went to my former Club. The Tigers! At first I was reluctant to actually reclaim them again as they were 2nd last on the Premiership ladder. But at least I knew that I could not be accused of jumping on the Winner‘s Bandwagon, like a lot of people do. It seems that when I was under some pressure to decide where I stood, I reverted to the desires of my youth. This is also Scriptural. Proverbs 22: 6 says, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray”. Whether following a Football Team is the right way or not, I will leave for you to decide!

Anyway, that’s how I became a Tiger again. I haven’t really thought about it since. Till recently when for some reason the title of this article sprang into my mind in an idle moment. A little later I read the Day’s paper and it had an article about the Tigers, where both the Captain and Vice Captain said that their goal for the coming year was, “Finals or failure.”

In other words, if they didn’t reach the final 8 in the coming Season, then they would consider the Season a failure. In one sense it sounds a noble goal but considering that they finished 9th last year, an improvement of one position doesn’t seem that ambitious, does it? However as I thought about it, I realized that although they only needed to move up one space to reach their goal, there really is no guarantee that any movement they have, will be up. It is just as likely that the movement could again go the other way, maybe not to 15th (Or worse) again, but still worse than 9th.

Enough of Footy, what about you and me? Have we stated any goals for the coming “Season”? Goals that although modest enough can be measured and evaluated; ones that you can also be held accountable for?

Where is your support focused at the moment? Have you jumped on the current Winning Band wagon, ready to jump off again at the first bump or bend in the road?

Or worse, is your wagon stuck on the road to destruction? If so jump off and into the arms of God. Don’t just jump off into the middle of the road to be collected by the next vehicle following. Go back to the God of the Bible.

If you have already decided to follow God but see that His star rating is not as high as some current thought, fancy or fad, don’t desert, but hang on in their and support your “Team” through thick and thin and eventually you (& I) will come out on the winning Team. How strong is your support? Can it stand on its own, or do you still rely on the opinions of others? Has it been influenced by others, or is it your own considered belief. Also are you influencing and encouraging others to follow your “Team”?

Finally, how sincere is your support for God? Is it like my support for the Tigers - just nominal with no real commitment? Just a phrase you trot out when asked and put out of mind the rest of the time? Are you fully committed to God or are you a C & E Church go-er? You know, only at “Christmas and Easter”!

Will this New Year truly be a New Year for you with obtainable goals as you walk with your God; or will this be just a repeat of last year?

Over to you: Walter

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