There has been a lot of talk of division lately. Last night’s NLDS game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals has me thinking about unity. Sports of all kinds have a way of bringing people together. Not only do we root for our chosen team, we share in the experience as if we are part of the accomplishments of the athletes we yell for and/or scream at.
I’ve lived in the DC area for 8 months now. I’ve been a Dodgers fan since I can remember because I grew up in a household of Dodgers fans. Actually I grew up in an extended family full of Dodgers fans. I swear I heard my Aunt Gorie from Heaven whooping it up last night. I certainly saw her joy filled face in my mind’s eye. By the 7th inning I was making frequent phone calls to my parents in California and one of my cousins and I were texting to each other through multiple tense moments.
I also was thinking of my new friends here in Virginia. I knew my moments of disappointment were simultaneously their moments of elation, and visa versa. When I thought about the real possibility of a Dodgers loss I actually thought about the joy it would bring them. I did not however, let that sway my loyalty and desire. No need to get too magnanimous! However, since we did get the win, I won’t be bringing it up at church on Sunday. (It’s not like they’re SF Giant fans).
Before the game last night a small group of people from our church gathered around our table for dinner. (I had to record the first hour of the game and they didn’t seem too impressed with my sacrifice). Anyway, as is our custom, we were discussing last Sunday’s sermon. Our pastor is doing a series on being the person your dog thinks you are (love it!) and this sermon was entitled, “Beloved Friend”. One of the attributes of a beloved friendship is serving together – being on mission for Jesus together. Our dinner party discussed how when we pursue a cause with a friend, (e.g., serving those who have less than us materially or serving those who are seemingly invisible to others), our friendships develop a tie that binds. Friendships share life in a deeper way when they serve others together.
To build unity in friendships we can learn from the experience of being a sports fan. Know the stats of your friends. Celebrate their gifts and understand their weaknesses. Be loyal. You can enjoy many people but it takes commitment to just a few to be a true fan. It’s the difference between a casual friendship and a beloved friend. I admire the Nats but “my team” is the Dodgers. Be committed to sharing your journey with Jesus, with one another. It’s a lot more fun when you’re wearing the same team shirt with others. It’s called home field advantage.