It wouldn’t take knowing me very long to know that I’m a huge University of Kentucky fan. I was born in Lexington, and I’ve got some couch-burning blue blood in my veins!
Lately, I’ve had the good fortune to attend two UK athletic events- one basketball and one football. A few weeks ago, I got to see them play basketball against Mount St. Mary’s University. And yes, I was among the many fans in attendance Googling this college on our way into Rupp Arena to find out who the heck they are. Turns out it’s a private Catholic school in Maryland.
Watching a game at Rupp is just magical. There is something about the fanfare and excitement that is so contagious, you can’t help but swell with pride. The giant blue and white flags, the cheerleaders, the indoor fireworks, and even the Wildcat himself. It super charges the air with a tangible kind of excitement.
Just this past weekend, I got to go to a UK football game. And not just any football game, but the ultimate Kentucky rivalry game against the University of Louisville. Talk about a super charged environment! The crowd was obviously split down the middle by red and blue attire, and opposing chants filled the air as thousands of people all tumbled into the stadium before the game.
As a UK fan, the best part of this evening (besides the crushing win) was hearing the familiar UK chants echo across Cardinal Stadium, home of the Louisville Cardinals. Hearing “Blue!” echoed by “White!” back and forth across the field, or the ever popular “Ooohhhhhhhh C-A-T-S Cats! Cats! Cats!”. It gave me that same Rupp Arena feeling….that feeling that I belonged to something big our little state of Kentucky.
And as I sat there in that stadium listening to the excitement of my team’s win in enemy territory, I felt a small voice say to me “As amazing as this is, don’t forget that you don’t belong here. You’re just a vagabond on your way to something more glorious.”
And that thought brought a smile to my face that goes deeper than any football win could ever go. There is something even bigger than this arm-hair raising event. And it’s eternal, not just three hours, only to subside as the long walk back to packed traffic trying to leave. It’s this kind of belonging and glory to an exponential amount for all eternity.
“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners where in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you by your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:17-19
Peter is saying that the things our ancestors valued enough to hand down as inheritance are actually empty compared to what Jesus bought for us with his death and resurrection. The money, the reputations, the real estate, the personal drive, etc. None of that means jack when it comes to the free gift of God.
This is such a counter cultural approach to take. Society values what it can see and measure. Success, fame, love, wealth, beauty, health. None of these things are inherently wrong, but when you set them next to the “inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade….(that) is kept in Heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4), there is no comparison.
If we really understood just how amazing and gracious this gift is, I think that our lives would look a lot less like the world and a lot more like the Jesus we claim to follow. It would be no big thing to risk ridicule or snide remarks from people if we were acting with this inheritance in mind. Because if we have our eyes set on what Christ bought for us, then the supposed mountains in front of us now would seem a lot smaller.
As I mulled this over, I started to ask myself what areas of my life specifically would look different if I really took this mindset. I think I would get my feelings hurt less easily, because I’d understand that people’s opinions don’t carry quite the weight I give them when I’m living for the approval of the One who sacrificed all for me. And maybe those situations that I don’t feel qualified for wouldn’t scare me so much because I’d understand that my Father who called me is worthy and He’s promised me grace. And maybe I’d care more about my morality because I’d really understand that I owe everything to the God who called me to holiness.
And maybe, I’d find my belonging, safety, and identity in Christ, not in the things that this world promises. Because those things are perishable and will end up letting me down, but Christ has guaranteed my grace upon grace and an inheritance that will never tarnish.
And I’ll thank God for the blessings he places in my life, like UK football wins over Louisville and all the million other things He drops in my life to enjoy. But at the end of the day, I rest my soul in His hands, not this world’s.
I belong to something so much more valuable than what the eye can see right now.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming.” 1 Peter 1:13