I was at the Raheny Inn yesterday watching Arsenal lose 1 nil to Newcastle United. I've been an Arsenal supporter for 11 years now, but because the majority of those years were spent in Austin, TX, I haven't been able to keep up with the Gunners as much as I would have liked. It's been great to be back on this side of the pond where I can actually watch most of the matches that the north London squad contests. Football (soccer) supporters are some of the most passionate fans in all of sports. They take fanaticism to a whole new level. At every match, regardless of the score, the fans are singing, shouting, and slagging the opposition's players and supporters alike. They don't just watch their team play, they identify with their club. Part, if not much of their identity is tied directly to their team of choice. They rejoice when the team is playing well and they mourn when it's not.
So as I watched Arsenal suffer through a frustrating afternoon against a team that they had just recently hammered 4 nil, I couldn't help but listen to some of the other Arsenal supporters both encourage (as much as you can through a television set) and criticize (let's just say their language wasn't 100% G rated) the boys in red. I was reminded that supporters sometimes criticize and question their team or their manager, but they never quit being fans.
Isn't it great that God Almighty isn't just our creator and king, but also our biggest fan. God wants nothing more than for each one of us to be rescued from our lives of sin. He is so much the supporter of humanity, that he didn't just watch our match from the sideline, but he took on our jersey and entered into the game on our behalf through his Son Jesus Christ. On top of the eternal provision that he's made for each one of us, he also gives us every good thing in this life for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). Even when we stink up the pitch, he doesn't bale on us or switch sides at the last minute, he cheers us on and gives us the encouragement we need to pick ourselves up and keeping kicking the ball until it eventually finds the net. God's the kind of supporter who will shout for his team just as enthusiastically in defeat as in victory. And with his backing, we can be sure that we will eventually win the ultimate prize. For those of us in Christ, the only way we'll lose is if we give up on God and quit the team.
So for us Arsenal supporters who missed a golden chance to close the gap on Chelsea yesterday, and even more so, for us Texas Longhorn fans who have forgotten what's it's like to win a game, keep shouting "Come on Arsenal" and "Hook'em Horns" regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard! After all, that's what fans are for. - Shay