March gladness

March 05, 2018 at 6:00 AM

One fan in this sea of red had an impact on how an entire fan base is viewed during a night in mid January.  (Photo by Dan Breen) 

March gladness

By Dan Breen

I’ve been in enough opposing fans’ stadiums and arenas to know that if you’re cheering for the visitor, don’t be obnoxious. Wearing the opposing team’s colors makes you enough of a target for ridicule and crude remarks.

Earlier this winter, I had an opportunity to put on my University of Michigan cap and sweatshirt and made a three-hour trip from Sioux Falls, S.D., to Lincoln, Neb., to watch the Wolverines play the Nebraska Cornhuskers in basketball.

If you get there early enough, security allows you to stand courtside during the warm-ups before shooing you out for the people who actually paid for those seats. As my friend and I made our way up from the ground level to our nose-bleed seats, I was stopped by an elderly man sitting on the aisle about halfway up the lower bowl.

“Thanks for making the trip,” said a sincere man wearing a Nebraska cap. “I hope you enjoy your time here.”

Wow! That surprise interaction really made an impression on me. Here I was, a part of the enemy throng, being welcomed – even thanked for being there. It’s amazing how one person’s words reflected on an entire fan base.

Many of our Luke Society ministries are wearing their Jesus clothes in the middle of hostile territories as well. A large number operate within predominantly Muslim cultures. For others it’s Buddhists, Hindus or atheists. As they stand up for the cross, they put themselves at risk.

Our ministry directors are undeterred. In fact, they welcome people of other faiths into their homes, clinics and community health programs. They view it as an opportunity to show the love of Christ in Word and deed.

Matthew 5:43-45 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love you neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

That’s not a warm fuzzy passage a lot of us always like to read, but our Master couldn’t have been more direct. It’s hard enough to pray for our enemies, let alone love them. But that‘s what we’re called to do.

As you seek ways to pray for our ministry directors, I encourage you to lift up their spiritual adversaries as well. Pray for our directors’ welcoming spirit to continue and that those from other faiths will see Christ’s love living in them. Pray for the Holy Spirit to compel them to accept that same Christian love into their own hearts.

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