I caught wind of a rather unusual prayer offered this weekend just down the road at a race in Nashville. I’m not a NASCAR fan. I don’t even pause for a moment when flipping through the channels and see that a race is on, especially not on the weekend when the Tour de France is finishing up. I’ve got nothing against it, car racing is just not my thing. But this prayer just couldn’t pass notice.
Now, I believe without question, that God has a sense of humor. In fact, I myself am known at times to add a note of sarcasm or humor to my own prayers, both public and private. But I feel like this guy was a little over the top. Not necessarily because of the humor, and the closing, “In Jesus’ name, boogity, boogity, boogity. Amen!” (Although, I must admit it’s pretty lame that he couldn’t come up with a little of his own humor, rather than stealing from Talladega Nights…) But more because of the other content of his prayer.
Namely, he spent so much time giving thanks for the “mighty machines,” and all the companies that play a part in making them roll, that I began to wonder if he had been paid for some air-time, prayer-time advertising. If not, I can’t imagine but that he was hoping for some post-prayer perks…a new set of Goodyears and a free tank of gas, perhaps.
Still, as those endorsements rolled on and on and on, what I found myself asking was, “What about everyone else?” What about all those people who don’t have a car? Or money to buy a ticket to a NASCAR race? What about all those people who have been laid off by GM, Toyota, Goodyear, and all those other companies in the recent years? What about people who can barely put food on the table? What about the justice that Christ came to show to all people?
As Christians, we live to serve Christ; to be Christ’s hands and feet, his voice in the world. This guy had a great opportunity to do just that, and instead he became the voice of corporations and mediocre movies. He could’ve shown the mercy, kindness, and love of God, and he did none of those things.
I love sports, and I will always pray for the health, safety, and well-being of any and all who participate in sports of whatever variety. But the Tour de France doesn’t make my life worth living, nor does NASCAR. And I for sure don’t feel any hope or love because of good tires and great fuel. We find hope and love from another Source, and it is that Source of Goodness to which all prayers should point.
I love Christ because God in Christ Jesus did something good (something GREAT, in fact) for this world. I serve Christ because I want the world to be a better place. I can pretty confidently say that everyone wants better for this world. But with prayers such as these being heard as the voice of Christianity, it is no wonder that people are losing confidence in Christianity’s ability to make this world a better place and are turning elsewhere in the meantime.
It’s good to love NASCAR and to have a good time, but in the midst of that, God calls us to something much, much greater. And the challenge for all of us, Christian or not, is to take the hard road when no one else will; to stand up for the good of all people, to show unconditional love to our neighbors, and to call others to do the same.