BY JOHN MACON GILLESPIE
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
—Matthew 18:20 (NKJV)
Tomorrow marks the kickoff of my favorite season once again: football season.
My earliest memories of college football feature Eli Manning in his senior campaign at Ole Miss leading the Rebels to a 10-3 record and the winningest coach in Mississippi State history, Jackie Sherrill, leaving the Bulldogs with a 2-10 record and under the weight of NCAA sanctions.
Not every college football season in the Magnolia State has been this polarizing, but it’s fitting that I fell in love with the sport around this time.
Sure, I didn’t understand what NCAA sanctions were or what Jackie Sherrill had meant to the Bulldog-faithful, but I knew that football was important in the lives of those around me. So, by default, it was important to me too.
That 2003 season was an emotional one in Mississippi, and it opened my eyes to some of football’s intangible qualities.
What really appealed to me the most about college football wasn’t the dramatic plays or the hard hits. It was the emotion.
How thousands upon thousands of people could lose their minds every weekend was beyond me, but I quickly found myself among them.
Eleven men coming together as a unit to work for one common goal was inspiring. I found myself dreaming of being among a fraternity of brothers such as a football team one day and helping lead my team to championships.
Although I never became a championship quarterback, football has taught me lesson after lesson. It’s a team sport. Without ten other men on the field, names like Eli Manning, Dak Prescott, and Brett Favre wouldn’t have gotten the accolades and recognition that they received throughout the course of their college careers.
The same can be said about the Christian life.
We were never meant to walk this road of faith alone.
Take a look at the second chapter of Acts:
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47 NKJV)
The early days of the Church were marked by believers fellowshipping with one another and
lifting each other up, and God blessed His Church as a result. A fellowshipping church is a
focused church, and a focused church is about the Lord’s work. That’s why souls were being
added “daily” to the ranks of the saved.
Back to football. A united team -- a team that plays as a unit with a common goal -- is a focused team and can win championships. How do you think dynasties like those of Miami, USC, and Alabama have been formed? With a common goal, vision, and teamwork.
As Christians, we aren’t playing for a conference or national championship. We’re playing for
something far more important, but we can’t play alone. We have to unite with our fellow
Christians in order to accomplish our goal of reaching the lost. Jesus didn’t send just one apostle to preach his word before He ascended into heaven. He sent them all.
If we are to be serious about reaching the lost in today’s times and generation, we have to have a football philosophy. Sometimes, it’s hard. Sometimes, it takes a lot of work. But with the right men and women by your side proclaiming God’s word to a lost and dying world, great things are possible. Great victories are possible.
Like in football, not every time we share the gospel will be a success. People won’t always
immediately come to Christ. But championship football teams don’t become successes
overnight, either. It takes days, weeks, months, and years of practice to perfect their craft and
become the elite athletes they desire to be. Sometimes, you will plant the seed of the gospel in someone’s life and not immediately see the fruits of your labor.
Continue to work. Continue to be a Christ-like example in the lives of those around you.
Continue to walk with God. Continue to practice. Continue to fellowship.
Work as a team with your fellow Christians and get out on the gridiron.
Your mission field.
MEET JOHN MACON
John Macon is a Print Journalism major at the University of Mississippi. He serves as a sports writer for SES Mississippi and The Daily Mississippian. He also serves as the public address announcer for Vardaman Highschool football.