This is what you live for, there is nothing better. This is my religion. The Eagles are my life.
Those freshly minted words were uttered by West Coast Eagles supporter, Adam Logan, as he soaked up the thrill of the Eagles defeating Collingwood in one of the all-time great Australian Football League Grand Finals yesterday.
Yesterday in my home town of Perth – the Eagles’ home town – the streets were emptied in a way that only a zombie apocalypse and an AFL grand final can do.
Which is why Jill and I took the opportunity to go to Bunnings to buy plants. It was green lights to greenery all the way.
Incidentally, later on four actual zombies did wander down the street past me, singing drunkenly, wearing Eagles colours and ditching beer bottles into suburban driveways. Situation normal then.
But they’re interesting words by Adam aren’t they? And frank in their admission.
Everyone’s got a religion. The Christian gospel isn’t the only gospel in town, and not even the most attractive, or even – in instances like yesterday – the most compelling.
Adam Logan – in the flush of success – is convinced that this is what he lives for, and that it doesn’t get better.
His money, time, attention, loves and desires are shaped around what happened yesterday. He is euphoric, as are many West Aussies, and you can’t blame them. I’m not churlish about footy or the win.
Have a look at what Adam Logan said again, only this time take one word out.
This is what you live for, there is nothing better. This is my religion. The BLANK are my life.
And really, that’s all of us. Just fill in the BLANK, and that’s pretty much humanity right there.
Humans are created to live “for” – not just live.
Humans are created for “better”. Humans are created to worship. Humans are created to have a “BLANK” be everything in their lives.
As David Foster Wallace said so famously:
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.
From the first Adam to the Second Adam, to Adam Logan, that observation has rung true, hasn’t it?
I suppose we could say to Adam Logan that the Eagles winning is not something worth living for. Certainly when there’s no guarantee of them winning another flag ever again.
Yet that too would be churlish. Created things – footy, sex (especially sex in our Sexular Culture), work, relationships, experiences, significance in achievements and the like -, are all good gifts given to us by a good God who enjoys us enjoying stuff. So enjoy it!
And buying plants at Bunnings, come to think of it.
But enjoy it all in order to point to a much bigger, deeper, lasting joy.
And that’s the key. “Lasting” joy.
When people ask the question “Can you be happy without God?”, I say, “Of course!” I don’t buy it when apologists say “no” to that question.
I don’t believe that you cannot be happy without God. Because lots of people – especially in this rich Western world – patently are.
But it won’t last. It will fade. It will die – probably before they do. For if someone dies without having experienced severe suffering, or deep unhappiness, then they are a rare beast indeed.
Die they will, and the joy of a premiership flag will not go with them. Nor the joy of sex, the joy of work, the joy of leisure, the joy of anything outside of the joy of God.
Christians are often described as “kill-joys”. We don’t need to be that. In fact our one true Joy was killed, then raised again so that our joy could go on forever.
And it’s interesting that the young son of a friend of mine gets this. He loved the game. Follows the Eagles avidly. Something twigged in him – even in the post-match euphoria – that it wasn’t enough. That the excitement dies down. And what then? Is this all there is, until the next time? If there even is a next time.
Psalm 16 says this:
In your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Less than full joy, less than forever pleasures. They’re graciously afforded us by God here and now.
But don’t put your hopes in them. Don’t pin eternity on them. Don’t, ultimately, live for them. For they will not live for you. Only the God of eternal joy and pleasure can do that.