(I was reminded this morning of this article I wrote in 2009. I thought it was an appropriate read 6 years later and thus, decided to add a bit at the end and re-post it. Enjoy!)
When I was in sixth grade there was a realization that came to be in my life. It was the fact that I was a Kentucky Wildcat. (For those reading outside of the Bluegrass State, I’m talking figuratively not literally.) I’m not sure exactly how I came into that knowledge. Maybe it was when I traveled numerous times with the Follett family to Kentucky football games and that pride of having a car horn playing the school theme song while others cheered it on did it. More than likely, it may have just been the fact that I thought some of the Wildcat basketball team guys were quite nice looking in their Converse shoes and striped tube socks… (Yes, I signed my name Nancy “Macy” on all of my notes to friends and yes, I am showing my age.) Regardless of how it came to be…..all I know is that sixth grade brought about my first true conversations of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, their rivals, their players and statistics. with all of my friends at lunch and that had never been before been an experience. Sixth grade was also the year that I, maintaining my tomboy image, decorated my bedroom in Wildcat Blue and White.. I was then the envy of all of my Kyle Macy, Jay Shidler loving girl friends and the envy of all of my UK basketball player wannabe guy friends… I was, without a doubt, a blue-blooded, ‘don’t talk bad about my Wildcats’, type of follower.
As I grew older (and wiser) I maintained that passion and enjoyed watching a game with others cheering right along whether at a live game or on television…. or even on the radio. I just didn’t want to miss a game. However, something happened years later that began creating a bit of confusion for me…. I was speaking with a family member who lived out of state and I mentioned the coach at the time, Rick Pitino. They floored me with their response, “Now who is Rick Pitino?” This was a well educated, former Kentucky resident and she had no idea who Rick Pitino was nor did she have a clue that he was the UK Basketball coach! I was stunned… You mean there are people out there who don’t follow Kentucky Basketball? You mean there are people out there who think UK means United Kingdom? You mean there are people out there who don’t schedule their C-sections and wedding plans and vacations around the Final Four or the SEC tournament? It can’t be! But it was true… It didn’t dishearten me, but it did open my eyes a bit.
A few years later I moved to Illinois, just a few minutes away from the city of St. Louis, Missouri. I was completely disappointed that they rarely showed a University of Kentucky basketball game there and that there was far more talk of Cardinals baseball and Rams football than any college program…. I just couldn’t understand. As years passed, I began to not be able to keep up with UK ball like I wanted. I tried to catch as much as I could on the radio, internet and national broadcasts but eventually it kind of began to fall out of my interest as I started to see the fun of following the Rams or the Cardinals. I was losing my blue. (Do you hear the moans?)
But now we are back in Kentucky and I’ll have to say that I was excited to be back in an area where there was such passion and enthusiasm about a nonprofessional sport. However, for me, something is different now…. it is not that I’ve become necessarily less of a Wildcat; UK is still always my top team.. it is not that I’ve become disinterested because I still love a good game. It is just that my perspective has changed. I was once totally consumed with being on the inside of the Big Blue Nation. I sent out Wildcat trash talk with the best of them and didn’t think for once that there might be others out there with passions focused in other areas. My thoughts were, you are either a Wildcat fan or you are wrong….My perspective has changed because I have now been on the outside looking in. It is still fun to cheer. It is still fun to have rivals. It is still fun to wear blue. Still yet, my perspective is different….
Today in Kentucky there is talk of a new coach… the rumor mill (or possibly the fact mill) is telling of coach John Calipari’s interest in becoming the next UK Men’s Basketball coach. Sports talk is everywhere… people are either super excited with the change or people are super upset with the change… regardless of their stance, it is everywhere.
(Disclaimer- I am not advocating that UK fans are like Pharisees…… this is not about “the fans” but about one fan…. read on…)
I realized something today as I was reading about Jesus and the Pharisees…. I think my lack of ability to think outside the Big Blue realm for years could have been comparable to the faith of the Pharisees…..the Pharisees were huge “Big Law” fans. Though the law was given as a way for salvation, it became flawed when the law began to become more important than loving God. Those same people who were so focused on obeying and protecting the law were also breaking the law by their lack of love… enter Jesus. He came to fulfill the law and in doing so he ruffled a few feathers and made some people pretty angry in the process. They were so focused on their Law Love that they couldn’t really love others. They were so focused on their Law Love that they couldn’t hear the truth though it was right in front of them. Until they stepped outside and looked in they couldn’t see that there was authority in the truth that Christ spoke and that he was offering them fulfillment of their beloved law. He was the salvation they needed but they couldn’t get past the thought of “You either follow all of the law… even the ones we have thrown in there…. or you are wrong” (Are you seeing the comparison?)… I’m saying my UK fanatic ways were comparable to the fanatical ways of the Pharisee.
Jesus offered salvation to a man who was lowered by friends through a roof in order to be healed. The Pharisees were so focused on Jesus offering salvation that their thoughts consumed them and they totally seemed to overlook the amazing fact that this man who was paralyzed was now walking. Truth in front of them and they couldn’t see it.
Now in comparing myself to the Pharisees,…..Though I couldn’t have said it at the time, I’m glad now that I had the opportunity to step outside and look in…I appreciate the new perspective. Had I not had to step away and take a look from another direction, I would have totally been one of those folks who would have wanted to run a coach with a poor record out of town. I would have considered it nothing other than being a loyal fan. However, lowering myself to the level of meanness or hatred toward a coach who possibly had a bad year or two, an athletic director who has to make incredibly tough decisions, or a team of students (yes, pretty much kids) is not the true sportsmanship of a loyal fan. Instead, it would be my blindness of not looking at the picture from the outside and considering what the correctness or truth of a fan really is. Is it possible that the Pharisees didn’t consider their anger or hatred toward Christ as anything other than being a loyal follower of the law? ….However, it was when they became hateful and mean that they stepped away from their law and were blind to what was true….
That is what I’ll call a Pharisee moment…A time when I am so focused on one thing that I can’t see what the truth is. (And, you know what? I’d probably even cheer my focused notion on… “Go Big Law!”)… The only redeeming thing about the Big Blue Blooded Die Hard Pharisee moment, It didn’t have an ounce of eternal value. It was just a total non-important Pharisee moment.
Here’s the tough thing though… Unfortunately, that same “Go Big Law” mentality can seep into our lives and while we are cheering it on, we miss our opportunities of seeing what Christ is showing us. We can easily be so fired up about the law that we forget the people… the people who God placed in our lives.. the people who He saves. We can also get so caught up in law pep rally that it turns into our own idol… and our own sin. Thankfully, just like Paul, God loves and forgives a Pharisee too… … all we have to do is ask.
God, show me your truth.
17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”