Friday, January 26, 2007

On Divided Loyalties

Full disclosure: I'm a Bears fan. I have been since I was old enough to figure out what that odd-shaped pigskin was used for. My dad and I would watch every Sunday as the Bears would, quite often, plod their way to a season with a few less wins than losses. There were bright spots, like watching the Kansas Comet, Gale Sayers run, or watching Dick Butkus clothesline runners with barely any trace of human compassion.

I got a treat in the mid 1980s as the team from Chicago put together the greatest team of characters the league has ever seen. Oh, and they could play as a team like something no one had ever seen. But after Walter Payton and the rest of that group of players shuffled off with their Super Bowl rings, I have watched the team return to mediocrity. There have been good years, but they have ended in disappointment.

The other part of my disclosure is that I'm also a Colts fan. I was raised a Hoosier, and truth be told, I still don't live far from the state of my birth. Maybe that plays into it, but I root for the Colts mostly because they are fun to watch. When Peyton Manning is rolling, it is amazing to watch. Similarly, I've been treated to some great, but disappointing years rooting for Indianapolis.

As most of you with media access know, the Super Bowl this year features the Bears against the Colts. My two favorite teams playing against one another for all the marbles. So who am I rooting for? The Bears, of course. When it comes to sports teams, I am first and foremost a Bears fan. No question about it. Will I be disappointed if the Colts win? You bet. And I don't know if it will make it better if they lose to the Colts or if they would lose to the Patriots -- I guess I'll find out soon enough, if it happens. But I know that I'm a Bears fan first, a Colts fan second.

I was listening to a radio interview this morning with an American Muslim. He was talking about a survey an organization had done, asking Muslims if they considered themselves: a Muslim first, an American first, or equally Muslim and American. The survey showed that 70 percent of those responding considered themselves to be Muslim first. 28 percent said that they were American and Muslim equally, leaving 2 percent to be American first.

In my heart, I thought, "Good for them. You should be Muslim first." After all, isn't that what religion is? Shouldn't it transcend political separations?

Much of the rest of the discussion centered on how so many Muslims don't know what their religion is all about, how they can't explain or answer questions about their religion to non-believers, and how they don't bother to read their revered holy book. And as I heard those complaints about Muslims, I was immediately reminded of times when I've said the same thing about people of my own faith. Face it, most Christians don't know what Christianity is all about, they can't explain their faith, and they let their holy Book sit on a shelf and get dusty. The sinful human condition shows itself equally, eh?

Then I also considered the poll question for Christians. Do I consider myself a Christian first, an American first or both equally? Now there was no question for me. I've made my views know on this blog for two years. I'm a Christian first, and I've written at length about how Christianity and Americanism are not the same, nor are they to be equal in a believer's life. That doesn't mean that as a Bears fan that I can't rootand yell and scream for the Colts to beat the Patriots. When my country and my religious beliefs don't conflict, then I am in good shape. But when the Colts and Bears square off and there can be only one winner, I am a Bears fan.

When your country and your faith disagree, what do you do? You live by faith, obeying the laws of the country provided they do not conflict with that faith. When they do conflict, you have no choice. Our loyalties to Christ cannot be divided. We are not of this world, our citizenship is in heaven, and we await a Savior from there.

Go Bears!


R. Stewart said...

Well said!

As usual:)

A Human Bean said...

There is no question in my mind. I am a Christian first. However, I would guess most "Christians" would say they are Americans first because they are not really Christians.