It's March Madness, Baby

March 14th, 2011
Photo © mvongrue | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

Unless this is your first March to live in the United States, you’ve no doubt experienced to some degree the frenzy that surrounds this spectacle: wild predictions, arguments about those predictions, prognostication contests, cinderella stories, unbelievable upsets, and incredible last-second shots. And then there are the tears, cheers, and shirtless, paint-slathered young men coated in the colors of their school. And let’s not forget the people screaming at televisions in support of schools that they once attended—and some in support of schools that they never attended. “Madness” truly is a fitting descriptor for the passion awakened during this month. No other athletic arena boasts the sustained drama surrounding the hopes of so many teams in such a short span of time.

Driven to Distraction

Ultimately, the outcome of a sporting event—regardless of the passion surrounding it—truly affects few lives. Even for most players and coaches, within a few years, the real impact on their lives is mild, relegated to fond memories of days gone by. So what does it say about our culture that riots have broken out in the streets of cities across the country over the outcome of athletic competitions?

Passion is a powerful force. It motivates us. It dictates our level of dedication to tasks and achieving goals. We are most likely to accomplish extraordinary accomplishments in areas about which we are passionate. Scientific breakthroughs, leaps in technology, and flashes of artistic brilliance all are the result of people investing their passions in a certain pursuit.

What do our passions say about our faith? As Christians we should consider our passions and how they reflect on who we are as children of God and followers of Christ. Do our passions make use of our God-given gifts and abilities? How do we use our passions to do God’s will and advance God’s kingdom on earth? Do our passions glorify God, or are they just a means of self-fulfillment?

Focus Pocus

Youth are passionate about any number of things. They’re passionate about the sports they play, the bands they love, their first relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and so on. Adolescence is a time of identity formation, and many teens’ passions change frequently as they have opportunities to try new things and explore new interests.

As young people discover and pursue their passions, they should be mindful that passion—as well as the time, energy, and resources that we invest in it—is a gift from God. Unchecked, our passions can lead us down some unfortunate paths. They can be a cause for pride, and they can disrupt our relationship with God and others. But if we can focus our passion on God and look for God in all the things that stir our passion, we will draw closer to God and God will show us how we can use our gifts to do Kingdom work in the world.

This article is also published as part of LinC, a weekly digital resource for youth small groups and Sunday school classes. The complete study guide can be purchased and downloaded here. (Photo credit: mvongrue | Flickr)

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