“A bunch of over-paid men kicking around a piece of leather and losing their minds when it enters a clump of holey material held up by two metal rods.”

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that I’m not into football.

What is it about footie fans that turns them into grizzly bears when the smallest word of negativity is spoken about their beloved sport?

And similarly, how do two strangers on a tube train become like siamese twins when they discover they’re both chanting the same song for the same team?

Is it true that religion divides but football unites?

Both seems to be about who you worship. Everyone can get a little uncomfortable when they find they are sitting next to someone who is devoted to an opposing team / belief system.

Why are we so threatened by difference?

Let’s face it: People will never be completely united in sport, or there would be no such thing as competition. People will never be completely united in faith, or there would be no such thing as free will.

Skill, influence and money help to make a team worthy of supporters, but what inspires people to follow opinionated, egoistic, deceived, deluded, religious leaders who have a  selfish ambition of wanting to make a name for himself? He claims he’s had countless visions from God and that mankind needs him to be their guru.

He takes truth’s from God’s word, the Bible, then mixes it with his own agenda and hey presto – out comes a man-made publication, littered with writings that demand that people have to do pointless things to please God and secure themselves a place in Heaven.

Now there’s nothing pointless about good works, but not if it’s done out of duty to try to win God’s favour and keep him smiling.

The Bible says, “We are saved by grace, not works, so that no man can boast.” That basically means that we nasty, rotten human beings have a tendency to try to out-do each other with our efforts; and so if our good deeds were the thing to secure us a heavenly place, the wiser, and stronger and more influential would be barging through to the front line with their bags of pride, declaring they travelled to Timbuktu and back in a day to feed one starving baby and ‘who can beat that’?

So what does ‘saved by grace‘ mean?  Giving us what we don’t deserve.

Jesus didn’t deserve to suffer for our bad attitudes and actions, but gladly did, so that we wouldn’t have to bear the penalty. We are saved from Hell by accepting that God sent Jesus to endure what should have been done to us. This is followed by deciding to completely turn around and include God in our lives by letting him help us live right.

See, no stuck-up-ness here. No looking down on the guilty, the drunks – we are all the same by nature.

So Jesus arrived on Earth to abolish all these rules and regulations that never came from the mouth of God.

Those man-made rules are what is called religion. Do this, like this, hate that, wear this, say that, and at these times in the calendar.

For those of you who don’t know and probably don’t even care, it was ‘holy’ people who murdered Jesus. Not thieves, not peadophiles, not drug dealers, not rapists, not prostitutes, not homosexuals – twas men of the cloth. Men who read the Old Testament of the Bible but disregarded the New. Men who said prayers several times a day and who refused to marry or drink wine or dance or have fun.

Jesus told them in Matthew 23 &24: “You tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but you yourselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Woe to you teachers of the law, you hypocrites. You shut the door of the kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those who are trying to.”

They didn’t like it, they felt threatened, were jealous and mad. Mad enough to spit. And spit they did, in his face just before they squashed 7 inch nails into his skull. He had called them blind guides and whitewashed tombs – appearing to be white and clean on the outside, but dirty and stinking when you took the lid off.

The truth hurts sometimes doesn’t it?

So they killed him to try to shut him up. And we are still trying to shut people up when we don’t like what we hear. It could be just someone saying nice things about the football team they support or someone saying nice things about Jesus. And we get offended because we feel threatened and awkward.

(Of course, living in this imperfect world, there are those who misuse the name of God to carry out their evil acts. It’s understandable that the poor victims of these perpetrators want nothing to do with piety and church and crosses and guidelines. But that’s a different subject.)

So, as I switch off the telly and push the back page of the newspaper under the settee, I remind myself that,

there is something good about football.

Just because I didn’t grow up playing it, was never taken to any matches, nor saw any passion coming from my parents about it, doesn’t mean it is stupid, or bad, or boring, or to be mocked, or criticised, or feared. And just like the game, I think of all those who never had the privilege of being introduced to the real God, the real Heavenly Father when they were young, and I understand a little more why sometimes they mock, criticise, fear, say it’s stupid, bad or boring to be a follower of Jesus. Their parents and their parents’ parents weren’t introduced to God either. Just like I was never introduced to football.

Daft game? No. It’s not is it?

I’m just ignorant about football, just like millions are about God.

That's better
That’s better