Behind-enemy-linesThis is a big week for College Football! If you’re hiding in a cave somewhere, you may not know. So let me inform you. This coming Monday, January 12th is the first College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship game.

If you don’t know me, you may not know that I’m a big fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. I grew up in Ohio. And it’s pretty much a given that if you grow up in Ohio, you’re going to be a Buckeyes fan.

And it just so happens that the Buckeyes made it into the very first CFP National Championship Game.

But so did another team.

The Oregon Ducks.

One other detail you may need to know. I live in Southwest Washington. We’re often considered a suburb of Portland, OR. We are about 2 hours away from Eugene, OR, where the Ducks play.

That means I am literally surrounded by Ducks fans. They are everywhere. All the time. And now that they’re in the National Championship game, they are multiplying at a rabbitesque pace.

My Facebook newsfeed is covered in so much Duck news that it looks like I’m a Duck fan.

But I’m not.

Really, really not.

In fact, one of the reasons I am writing this post is so that I can encourage my Ohio friends to post more Buckeyes stuff so there will be a little more balance in my news feed. I need you to step it up guys! help a brother out!

I’m also a pastor. Which means I can’t really talk about my favorite team right now. I’m hamstrung. I’m surrounded by the Ducks, and I’m rooting for the other team. I could talk about them, but it could be seen as an abuse of power. And if the Bucks lose, I’ll never hear the end of it.

I’m literally living in enemy territory. I’m behind enemy lines, and my only hope is a victory. Not so I can be braggadocios (after all, I like my home and would like it to not be burned down or painted by green and yellow paintballs), but just so I don’t have to endure years of put downs.

So on one hand, this is a plea to my favorite team. Please don’t let me down. Not this time. Not this game. Not against this team!

But, it got me thinking. There has to be a way for me to engage in conversation about this game without it ending in an all out brawl.

And I think I’ve got it figured out. It actually stems from a very biblical concept of humility and honest. You might say, authenticity.

If I talk about the weaknesses of my team and their vulnerabilities, it opens up the discussion to talk about the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the Ducks. And if I talk about the strengths of my team with humility, I can talk about what I think they need to do to win.

But I have do it within the guardrails of humility, honesty and authenticity. If I get proud, even if I’m doing so with a playful attitude, I’m called out as a hypocrite. You have to remember, I’m living in enemy territory. I’m behind enemy lines. You can’t even pretend to be proud when you’re rooting for the other team. You just can’t.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about something as important as this game.

And the hope is that I’ll also not be the recipient of a mountain of trash talk the size of Mt. Hood if the Buckeyes lose. My hopes aren’t up, but at least I’ve tried.

My point is this: no matter where you find yourself, you can have important conversations. Even if it feels like your living in enemy territory. (Not that I would ever classify those who disagree with me about much bigger issues than football enemies. But, this is a metaphor, so just roll with it if you will.)

In fact, this is the example that Jesus rolled out for us. He was humble, honest and authentic with those whom he interacted. The only people he was harsh with were the religious leaders who should have known who he was, but couldn’t see the Messiah because of their religion.

And it’s not just the CFP National Championship game driving this post. There is a conference going on in Portland, OR today. The Gay Christian Network Conference. Unfortunately some Buffoons from Westboro baptist showed up to protest. (I’m convinced Jesus would speak rather harshly to the leaders of this organization.) But, a ton of Christians from the area showed up to build a wall of love to separate the conference attendees from the idiots who have no perception of the Gospel Jesus preached.

This is my point, we can disagree. It’s Okay. We can be surrounded by people who disagree with us. And if we approach our discussions with humility, honesty and authenticity, we can talk about anything. But, we gain nothing by being silent. We gain nothing by withholding our voice from the discussion.

I don’t agree with Duck fans. Never will. I don’t agree with Westboro Baptist. I also don’t agree with Vicky Beeching who spoke today at the conference. But despite our disagreements, we can have a discussion. We can. If we can’t, we never really understood the Gospel to begin with.

In the meantime. Since this is my blog. And I can say whatever I want.

Go Bucks!