Who Is He Rooting For?

I'm normally somewhat of a basketball widow during the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I go on about my business while my husband calls a time out on life so he can watch one college basketball game after another. I don't mind his obsession because it's harmless, lasts just a few weeks, and gives me fodder for favors I may need - like new shoes or a girls' night out.

But this year I've got me a team to root for so I'm right there on the couch with him.

No, the University of Georgia Bulldogs aren't still in the dance. That's my alma mater. I cheered them on in their one game against the University of Washington, whom I've come to loathe as a new PAC 10 fan, but alas they lost. But I had another team in the fight. Since my son attends the University of Arizona we've become ardent Wildcats. He attends all the home games and we watch them on television, spotting our son in the crowd most every time.

It's quite unusual for me, but I know every player's name, number and position. I know their strengths and their weaknesses. I feel like I'm their mama and they're my boys.

And guess what? Arizona surprised the nation by beating another team that our family usually roots for, University of Texas. So Arizona moves on into the Sweet Sixteen bracket later this week, tomorrow to be exact...6:00 I believe.

We're a people who like to pick a team, aren't we? We're also pretty fickle about our teams. Most of us have changed our alliances over the years at least once or twice, depending on what state we live in, where we go to school, where our kids go to school, who has our favorite coach, who's winning...

But we definitely pick teams. In fact, we begin to assume after a while that all of life is about picking teams and takings sides.

Even on Facebook you have the option to Like something someone else says. And if you change you're mind, you can Unlike it. You get to have a vote, take a stand, speak your mind.

Choosing teams can be good, harmless fun.

It can also be dangerous and ungodly.

Have you ever asked God to choose teams? Have you ever asked Him to take up your cause and to defeat your enemies? Have you asked Him to let you win and to "sic" the other guy?

I have.

King David did too.

Today I read Psalm 37 in my daily Bible reading. It's one of those psalms where David cries out to God in his distress and asks God to vindicate him. I'll let you read the psalm on your own, if you wish, but here's a little sample:

This You have seen, O Lord;
Do not keep silence.
O Lord, do not be far from me.
Stir up Yourself, 
and awake to my vindication,
To my cause, My God and my Lord.
Vindicate me, O Lord my God,
according to Your righteousness;
And let them not rejoice over me.
(Psalm 37:22-24)

There's a whole lot more where that came from.

And I relate with David. I've got something going on in my life right now that caused me to shout in agreement with David as I read his words this morning. I was reading along and thinking, "That's right, God! Amen! You tell Him David!"

And then something happened in my spirit.

I realized that the very people I was wanting God to "get onto" were my brothers and sisters in Christ. More than that, they're His children. He loves them.

And that's when God reminded me that Jesus said to pray for those who persecute you and not to condemn them. That means I'm not supposed to pray for their judgment, their doom. I'm to pray for God to bless them.

Why would He ask me to do that? Because God is not a man that chooses sides. He is God. He is sovereign. He is for us.

If God is for us, who is against us?
Romans 8:31b

I added the italics because I wanted to remind you (and me) that God is not just for me. He is for us

That leaves the question, who is against us? And that takes us to Ephesians 6:12:

For our struggle is not against
flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness 
in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians 6:12)

People, whether they are Christians or not, are not my enemy. Satan is the accuser of the brethren, the deceiver, and the lion that seeks whom he may devour. He and his spiritual forces are the enemy. When I remember that, it changes my prayers.

My prayers are no longer "Sic'em God!" but "Lord, help us all!"

What about David's petitions? I think they were honest, gut-level feelings expressed by a man to his God. But I don't think God necessarily avenged David immediately just because David asked Him to. I have a feeling that God reminded him, like He reminded me, that He is not a God who chooses sides. He is a loving and patient and merciful God who works all things together for our good. Maybe He had some things to teach David through his ordeal. Maybe He was showing him that even when everyone else abandons you, God is still there.

So today I'm praying for my "enemies" all right. I'm honestly praying blessings for them. And I'm not praying for blessings out of spite, either. You know those prayers. The ones where you pray for them to be blessed so they'll "learn their lesson!" I don't think that's what Jesus meant for us to do either. I think He means for us to honestly pray for those who we are not currently jiving with so that we can once again, some day, some how, be on the same team.

Because He is for us.