Rivalry Weekend

John 3:35
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Steve Martin

This past weekend college football was billed as “Rivalry Weekend.” It is that time of the year when you and your team’s rival fight it out on the gridiron. The winner gets one year’s bragging rights and some sort of trophy that goes back and forth to the winner each year. Some schools rivalry is more fierce than others. I went to Duke, so our rivalry is always UNC. Matter of fact my wife describes us as ABC fans (Anybody but Carolina). But that comes from those UNC fans that can’t take it when they lose but love to dish it out when they win. We got the stuffings beat out of us on Thursday night a week ago. We lost the “Bell” and missed out on our divisional championship because of that loss. It was an ugly, ugly, ugly game for Duke fans.

I remember the story told about the Ohio State and Michigan rivalry. Coaches could/would be fired over a loss, children’s choice of mates was determined by where their allegiance resided. One was classic: the son of a Buck Eye graduate signed up to go to college at Michigan. When his father found out he went to Michigan, found his son, drove him to Ohio State and enrolled him. Nuff said, right!!!

Being a preacher’s kid, we moved a lot. But in the town I call home, Madison/Mayodan, the big rivalry was Morehead in Eden, and it seems everyone’s rivalry was Reidsville. The feelings were so strong with them that at their home field almost every year fights broke out, cars were damaged, and arrests were made.

I like healthy, good spirited rivalry. I think it pushes the players to give more of themselves than they may normally. It is kinda like the Alabama – Auburn game Saturday. That was a high scoring (99 point) game with many really good plays. I am sure there are some who took things too far. Hopefully most accepted the game as a very good game of which both schools could be proud of their efforts.

We have rivalries in life also… at work, in the community, even in our own families… and we need not mention politics. We do everything we can to best them in all things. We have to be number one: biggest house in the best neighborhoods, most celebrated and brightest kids, best jobs and fanciest cars.

In the world of religion and faith I have a hard time seeing a proper place for rivalries. We should not compete with each other. The story is told of a small town with a church on three corners of the main square: Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist. One hot summer Sunday night the Baptist started singing: “Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown.” The Presbyterians responded with: “No, Not One” and the Methodist finished with: “I’m So Glad.” I’m sure that probably did not happen. But it does point to the senseless things we do, as denominations within the Christian Faith, to try to outdo one another.

If we should want to outdo one another in the faith, let’s outdo one another in love, understanding and acceptance. Wouldn’t it be great if people actually did say: WOW!!! Look at those Christians, how they love one another. Perhaps if Christians had loved one another when Ghandi was looking into becoming a Christian he and most of India would be Christians now. Perhaps if we loved as Christians should love there would be no one starving right now in Syria only a couple of miles from food and medicine. Perhaps if we loved as Christians should love there would be no hungry and homeless and unemployed people in the richest country in the world. Perhaps if Christians loved as Christians should love people would actually believe they are equal, worthy, and loved.

Dear Lord, I know I give in to rivalries that I shouldn’t and even make up ones where they were not before. When I do I know that I am not being the person you created and called me to become. Help me to put rivalries aside and seek to be loving in everything I do. Only in doing that will others see you living through me. In and through Jesus. Amen.

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