Domed and Doomed Christians

As much as I’m an underdog-fan as a Gamecock, I was glad the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl. I like the Steelers because I like the city of Pittsburgh. I’ve spent time there upon several occasions. It’s a pretty city with the Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers meeting to form the Ohio. The tunnels through Mt. Washington are daunting and majestic. The ride up the city’s famous Incline is worth the view overlooking historic Fort Pitt. The PP&G (Pittsburg Plate & Glass) building is an east coast version of the Crystal Cathedral.
The steel mills are mostly closed in this Rust-Belt city, but the Steeler attitude is still present. For the nearly two weeks I was there five years ago, I witnessed the what-you-see-is-what-you-get grit of the people. For instance, practically every day I ate at the Steel City Diner. It wasn’t a fancy restaurant, not even close. It was exactly what the name said it was, a diner. The food was hearty, hot, and hit the spot. The folks working there were personable and caring. The whole city exuded a raw edgy work ethic that was both no-nonsense and refreshing. There was no “putting on airs,” as the old adage goes.
It’s interesting that the Pittsburgh Steelers play at Heinz Field, named, of course, for the famous condiment company that is one of the backbones of the Pittsburgh community. Heinz Field is completely au naturel in both grass and sunlight. The Cardinals play in a facility with a retractable roof. I think there’s something to be said for football teams willing to duke it out in the brutal cold of winter. I think it helps them win, too.
Here’s why. The conditioning of a Super Bowl team requires rain, wind, mud, heat, cold, snow, and sleet. No team will be ready for the challenges of the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl, who hasn’t been through the elements. For my two-cent’s worth, the hardship of the elements builds character and character is what wins Super Bowls. Every team has talent. Therefore, hunger, desire, and character are huge. That says to me, from my experience of their hometown, why the Steelers were able to pull the big win off.
But what has this got to do with Christianity and faith? Christianity that resides in a sheltered environment is domed and doomed. To be Christian is to be in the world, open to all of its elements. Christianity didn’t begin in the protected enclave of a hot-house but in the open-air arenas and coliseums of Roman martyrdom. When pagans saw how Christians fared under the sword, how we weathered the persecutions, and how we died for Christ; they knew there was something “real” about Jesus, and they wanted to learn more.
We don’t play on artificial turf. We live in the real world, and the real world needs us! The earth needs us! I saw a bumper sticker the other day as I was driving down the street: “It’s time to Mother Earth.” At first, slow of mind, I didn’t get it. Then, wham! Yes, it is time for us to nurture this planet. We take and take, and hardly ever give back. Spaceship Earth is in dire need of our protection and stewardship.
Genuine Christianity is involved in an open-air transparent defense of creation and all its creatures. Artificial Christians and sheltered ones need not apply for discipleship. God wants us to make a difference. Can we? If we keep playing on real turf in the real world both history and statistics are on our side in the Super Bowl of life.

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