An old fellow was watching the Super Bowl from front row seats near the 50-yard line when a man, passing by, asked if someone would be sitting in the seat next to him.

“No,” he said. “That seat is empty.”

“You have to be kidding me,” the man said. “Who in their right mind would have a great seat like this for the Super Bowl and not use it?”

“Well, actually my wife was supposed to come with me, but she died.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. But couldn’t you find a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?”

“No,” the fellow said. “They’re all at her funeral.”

I’m constantly amazed by the loyalty and devotion so many people have to their favorite athletic teams. They wouldn’t dare miss a game. If they can’t be there in person, they’ll watch on TV, even if it means paying huge monthly bills to cable or satellite companies to get all the ESPN coverage.

Here’s the kicker: So many of those sports fans claim to be devout Christians who insist that their devotion to Christ is first and foremost. Yet, those Christians have no inhibitions about skipping church services if their favorite teams are playing.

Time was when missing Sunday worship was unthinkable. Nowadays, many Christians know far more about their favorite sports heroes than they know about Jesus..

They’ll spend a couple hundred dollars or more for tickets, parking, food and drinks at a sports arena. Yet, they’ll feel like they’ve done something incredibly generous if they toss a $20 bill into the church offering plate.

If sports fans invested as much in local churches as they do for season tickets, the gospel would quickly spread to every corner of the earth. And if they would bring the same excitement to church that they take to the sports arena, worship services would be lively indeed.

The great victory in the history of the world came when Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave, and when we hear sermons about that, we should jump to our feet and cheer. In fact, we should absolutely shake the rafters with applause. What could be more exciting?

We chuckle about the fanatical sports fan who refused to miss a game for his wife’s funeral. Perhaps you know someone just that serious about their favorite athlete, someone who talks constantly about that athlete and even wears his jersey.

If only we had more people who felt so strongly about Jesus.

Roger Alford is pastor of South Fork Baptist Church. Reach him at 502-514-6857 or by writing P.O. Box 673, Owenton, Ky. 40359.

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