What raises your blood pres­sure?

Penticton Herald - - OPINION -

Last week­end was a rare treat. I piled into the car with friends and headed for a week­end of sports.

Sun­day af­ter­noon found us in Seat­tle for a Sea­hawks game. It was my first time in any NFL sta­dium, and I am still pro­cess­ing the level of fa­nati­cism we ex­pe­ri­enced.

We ar­rived more than two hours be­fore the game, yet the streets were full of ex­u­ber­ant fans. Al­most all were wear­ing jer­seys, jack­ets, hats, mitts or other para­pher­na­lia de­fy­ing de­scrip­tion. Many had their hair and beards dyed and/or their faces painted. The scene re­sem­bled pic­tures I re­mem­ber see­ing in Na­tional Geo­graphic as a child.

Once in­side the sta­dium I strug­gled to un­der­stand why peo­ple would pay ex­or­bi­tant amounts of money to pur­chase seats and then stand for three hours. The cor­re­spond­ing strug­gle was their choice ef­fec­tively man­dated we stand if we wanted to see any­thing.

I had heard about the noise level, so came with ear pro­tec­tion. It did lit­tle to soften the unimag­in­able deci­bel level of 70,000 scream­ing, and I mean scream­ing, fans.

The ex­pe­ri­ence was a lot of fun, but left me with much to pon­der.

All that hype and ex­pense was ex­pended for noth­ing more than a game (and not even a cham­pi­onship game). As I process the ex­pe­ri­ence, I want to ex­er­cise cau­tion so as not to fall into the camp that crit­i­cizes any ex­pen­di­ture other than food and hous­ing with the claim the money and en­ergy could be put to bet­ter use. That claim is al­most al­ways true, but it’s ap­ples and or­anges.

To quote Je­sus af­ter a grate­ful woman poured per­fume on his feet and the re­li­gious crit­ics claimed the per­fume should have been sold and the money given to the poor, “There will al­ways be poor among you to help.” Can­celling the foot­ball game or sell­ing the per­fume will not solve the prob­lem of poverty.

Rather, my pro­cess­ing of the event is at a dif­fer­ent level. It forces me to won­der which projects, causes or ideals in­cite a level of pas­sion in me that is even a frac­tion of the pas­sion I ob­served in the ra­bid Sea­hawks fans. For what would I stand and cheer for three hours? Of­ten when I of­fi­ci­ate a me­mo­rial ser­vice, I ask the fam­ily mem­bers, “What made your loved one ei­ther ex­ces­sively happy or rag­ing mad?”

What do I care so deeply about that no one would dare get in my way as I sup­port it?

When I study the life of Je­sus there is ev­i­dence He be­came livid when­ever He en­coun­tered abuse of the help­less or de­fense­less, es­pe­cially if it took place in the name of reli­gion. St. Paul was in­tol­er­ant of those us­ing reli­gion to en­slave peo­ple who had been set free by the for­give­ness of God. In a dif­fer­ent con­text, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of God are fre­quently pic­tured in the Scrip­tures, en­dors­ing in­di­vid­u­als like David who would demon­strate enor­mous faith to tackle gi­ants like Go­liath.

Much closer to home this week­end is the recog­ni­tion that nu­mer­ous men and women were pre­pared to sac­ri­fice ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing for the free­doms we en­joy. To them and their loved ones we ex­tend our deep­est grat­i­tude.

It seems that the abil­ity to dis­cern when and for what pur­pose one should ex­pend max­i­mum en­ergy is a mark of sig­nif­i­cant ma­tu­rity.

I’m not sure the NFL has ever con­sid­ered it, but the priv­i­lege of at­tend­ing one of their games has given this preacher a lot to think about that has noth­ing what­so­ever to do with foot­ball.

Tim Schroeder is a pas­tor at Trin­ity Bap­tist Church and Chap­lain to the Kelowna Rock­ets and RCMP.

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