It is the third largest city in Nebraska… most days that is.
On a select few Saturdays, and one notable Friday each autumn Bellevue slips to 4th, surrendering its bronze medal to Memorial Stadium.
It is the home of Husker Football; an ancient relic of a stadium that is routinely filled with 91,000 crimson-clad lunatics.
Routinely may be an understatement… try always. Every single game sold out since 1962.
A true blueblood of college football, Nebraska football is unique. Expectations among the legions of fans are sick. For most teams an eight win season gets their coach a contract extension, in Lincoln it gets you fired.
Friday I found myself in the belly of this beast; a lone Hawkeye fan sitting among Big Red season ticket holders. And as my Hawkeyes laid a monumental beatdown on the local squad (38-17) a funny thing happened.
I saw Big Red’s true colors, and they were spectacular.
Late in the 4th quarter the crazy, sick, irrational and devoted fans seated around me did a really odd thing. They began to congratulate me. They each took turns shaking my hand and genuinely wishing me well. It was bizarre. Five minutes from collecting their 4th loss of the year (three seasons worth) they bore no anger, no bitterness, no excuses– just grace.
One guy even offered (unsolicited) to take my wife and my picture with the scoreboard in the background. And the whole thing was genuine. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone.
Turns out the same school that tolerates the single most immature coach in all of college football has fans that make Tony Dungy seem like a jerk.
I gotta say, in some small way it kinda makes me a Nebraska fan. Second to the Hawks of course, but I like good things to happen to good people, and these are good people. What they have, their dedication and love of the Huskers is really special.
As Evangelists we can learn a lot from this. Telling people about God is great, but if we leave all the positivity at church on Sunday, we are missing the boat.
Our children aren’t leaving the church because they don’t like what God has to say, they are leaving the church because too many people *in* the church don’t apply the teachings of Christ to their lives. What is really going to attract people to the Church and a Savior is seeing His redemptive power in action. The bible calls us to be
“the aroma of the Messiah among those who are being saved and among those who are being lost”
2 Corinthians 2:15
What is your aroma?