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 but it could have been the fact that I traveled with the Follett family numerous times to Kentucky football games and there was nothing like the pride of having a car horn that played the school theme song…… or it could 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) 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 and their rivals with all of my friends at lunch that had never been before. Sixth grade was also the year that I, maintaining my tomboy image, decorated my bedroom in Wildcat Blue and White.. I was then 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 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 that Rick Pitino had done something and they floored me with their response, “Now who is Rick Pitino?” This was a well educated, former Kentucky resident and they had no idea who Rick Pitino was nor did they 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 because UK is still always my top team.. it is not that I’ve become a disinterested because I still love a good game… it is 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 … but still 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 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 and those same people who were so focused on obeying 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 their eyes… 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 made up…. 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 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… 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 not have considered it any less than being a loyal fan…But 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… 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…. the Pharisees likely didn’t consider their anger or hatred toward Christ as any more than being a loyal follower of the law…. but it was when they became hateful and mean that they stepped away from their law and were blind to what was true….
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
That is what I’ll call a Pharisee moment… something that I am so focused on that I can’t see what the truth is. (and I’d probably even cheer it on… Go Big Law!)… and the sad thing, that realizing there was another way to look at life outside the Big Blue walls is not even of eternal value… it was just a total non-important Pharisee moment… nothing in comparison to choices I’ve made that are of spiritual worth… I’m sure I could name plenty moments like that one but would have greater depth and meaning such as….. going to church, hearing the words but not leaving with a changed heart…. or praying but only in motion not in heart… “loving” people at church but forgetting that “love” when I was out of that building or situation…..There are more… Thankfully, like Paul, God forgives a Pharisee… 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.”