“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Chor 9:19-23)
Green or Blue?
The color choices of attire were the difference between being hugged by 30 or 40 Spanish speaking Mexicans, or being pelted with full cups of beer as you walked through the stadium. Argentina’s goal tender was camouflaged by the trash that flew through the air to litter his lined territory on the field. Yes this was my first international soccer game experience a couple of weeks ago. Mexico vs. Argentina, and I was one of 70,000 fans- dressed in green.
I have always heard stories about how crazy soccer games were, and I was hoping for nothing less when my wife hooked up some tickets a few months ago. As you can imagine being so close to the border here in San Diego, this was pretty much a home game for Mexico.
“Don’t wear blue” was the main advice I got for the evening. Fans that wear blue were fair game for projectiles ranging from half eaten hot dogs to full cups of beer. Now why anyone would want to invest $8 of hard earned cash to buy a bud light just to throw it at someone is beyond me. After all 80 pesos is no joke. But that was the story of the night. And things were just as crazy as you would think they would have been.
As I sat there in my green Adidas gear as one of the only white people in the stands that night, I couldn’t help but feel a little fraudulent. The true fans of the game were as energized as the cracked out Raiders fans you see on TV. “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Fooooooooootboooooollll!!!!” They would yell every goal kick. In some small way, I wished I was a part of the click and knew the right chants and when to say them. It would be fun to be a part of the crowd. My green colored jacked somehow validated.
So my mind began to drift a little as I looked at the stands full of people and beer cups flying through the air. The power of the masses. Did I look like a poser in my green jacket, or were people too busy looking for the blue clad fans? How different would I have felt as a blue clad fan? A whitey, blue clad, fan. A death sentence indeed. Is this how the world sees Christians today? I would argue to say that Christians of today’s world take on one of three roles.
#1. You could be the “I told you so Christian” dressed in blue. You know your team is superior and will win the game. Carry your flag around and look down at everyone else. Get pelted with beer, and say “Well this is just the way it is. I am persecuted for being different”
#2. On the flip side of the coin you could be a Christian dressed in green because it is much easier to roll with the masses than be pelted with trash. Pleading for acceptance you join the chants of the crowd, throw trash at the other team, and blend into the fold. When people find out you are a “blue” fan they call you a hypocrite.
#3. You could be the Christian dressed in green out of respect for your surroundings. You are not one of the green fans, but you are with the green fans. People can recognize you are different as you restrain from pelting others with beer, you don’t yell obscenities at others, and generally you show kindness to all around you.
I personally think this is what Paul was talking about in Corinthians.
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.”
We are called to a life of sincerity of character without judgment of “the other team”. We go into the world, often wearing their colors, to win the lost. This is the picture of Christ. With the tax collectors, prostitutes, government officials, the sick and the needy. Putting on their clothes and showing them the love of God.
I know I am stretching the analogy a little with the mere attendance at a soccer game. It falls short in the respect that I was not there dressed in green to attempt to show them that their team was the wrong one. I did however get a glimpse into how easy it is for us as believers to either pass judgment on those in other uniforms, or on the other hand, join the world and simply blend in. It is a tougher road to balance the two and show love to everyone around you.
So in the end, Argentina pretty much schooled Mexico with a final score of 4-1. My first international soccer game was one I will never forget. As always, I was surrounded by good friends who make my life as full as is it today. And we all were wearing green.