Summary: Even though we seem to be too few and too ill-prepared, if we engage this community for Christ there will be some victories and therefore joy.

This afternoon, when the saints come marching in, there will be several grades and degrees of happiness.

Those ladies who remain football widows, who have not yet learned that if you can’t beat ’em, you have to join ’em – those who are football widows may be unhappy about the temporary loss of companionship for three plus hours during the game. But they will at least be grateful for a few moments of peace and quiet, for an afternoon when he is so preoccupied with the game that he will not ask you to broil a steak or to find his socks. So there is a little happiness, a little joy, for football widows on Sunday afternoon.

Another group of folks get more joy, however. These are the TV spectators. These are the folks who become couch potatoes at 1:00 pm and do not budge except to lunge toward the refrigerator door during commercial breaks. They watch the game from the comfort, the safety, and the convenience of their own homes, and feel a pretty good degree of satisfaction. They – I should say "we" – we get a pretty good degree of happiness out of watching from the comfort zone.

But I would suggest to you that there is another crowd who derive more joy, that there are others who reap more pleasure than the couch potatoes. These would be the fans who actually go to the game, the folks who plunk down good money, lots of it, and, in the case of Redskins fans, who may have been waiting for the chance to plunk it down for years and years (unless your last name is Cooke) – those who actually go to the game, actually feel the wind in their faces, get poked in the ribs by other fans, walk for 45 minutes to their vandalized cars … these folks get a high degree of joy out of the game. Those who get right out there in the bleachers, who see things the camera doesn’t see, who may even stand up and do the wave, they get a tremendous amount of joy from the game.

By the way, did you hear about the time a charismatic church and a, shall we say, straight church, orderly church merged? The charismatic folks, you know, like to do things spontaneously, like to just jump up and lift their hands whenever they feel like it. The straight folks, the orderly church, of course, won’t do anything that’s not already planned. And so when they merged and went to worship, they put it all together and did the "wave"!

But, I’m saying, those who attend the game, sit on the sidelines, feel the crowd’s roar, smell the sweat and all the rest of it – they seem to get lots more joy out of the whole event than either the couch potatoes or the football widows.

But there is still one more group, and these folks get the most joy of all out of the game. These folks enjoy the whole bruising business with all the glee of small children in the sandpile. These folks, when kickoff time arrives, are happier than a lion in a den full of Daniels. These folks get the most joy. Who are they? Who am I talking about?

The players. The football players themselves. Now you just watch. This afternoon, while you join me on the couch, you watch for Dexter Manley. That guy will take a beating that would destroy most of us ordinary mortals, but what is he doing? He’s grunting, he’s grimacing, he’s growling, and he is grinning! The guy would rather be no other place! He actually enjoys combat!

Look at the Hogs, watch Bostic crunch somebody under, and wait until they sack the Saints quarterback, and what will they do? They will celebrate! They will do little dances of joy! And when they score, they will spike the ball, they will high-five each other, they will bounce allover the end zone – sheer joy. Unlimited fun, even though they have been bruised and battered and punished. Sheer joy.

What is the point? That the real joy is on the scrimmage line. That the real excitement is out where the battle is being fought. That even though it costs you, and you get sore, and you take your lumps, the way to get joy, real joy, wonderful joy, true joy, is to be on the front line, the scrimmage line.

If it’s true in football, it’s true in life, and it’s true where the Lord’s work is concerned. If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, true joy, the song says, let Jesus come into your heart. But I will go a step further. If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, true joy, then go to work for Jesus. Take some punishment for Jesus. Get in trouble for Jesus. And you will know joy, real joy.

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