Summary: Nascar has one of the loyalist fan bases in the US and it is the only major US sport that opens its ceremonies with prayer. See how Colossians 1 applies to the "race for Christ."
TEXT: Colossians 1:12-23 TITLE: The Winning Circle of His Love
(The stage was decorated with various racing items including race flags crisscrossed on the pulpit and a racing streamer across the length of the stage. I entered the sanctuary wearing a one piece pit-crew outfit and racing helmet, while the overhead played the last lap of the 2007 Daytona 500 race. After drawing attention to the racing decorations on stage, I began the opening illustration).
OPEN: According to Jeff Foxworthy, you Might Be A Nascar Redneck if:
· Your favorite NASCAR souvenir was a direct result of a crash in turn three....
· You can remember every NASCAR driver and their car number but you can’t remember how old your children are...
· Your pet nickname for your wife is "Lugnut"....
· You can change a tire faster than you can change a diaper....
· You’ve spent more time on the top of a Winnebago than in one....
· You think - last 4 words of the National Anthem are "Gentleman start your engines”
· You make engine noises while watching racing on TV....
· You pull into the gas station behind someone else just to see if you can beat them out. This or course would require your wife to clean the windshield and your son to check the tires.
· You think the most effective form of advertising is on the side of a car going 200 mph..... around and around and around....
· And my personal favorite: you might be a Nascar Redneck if someone asks the time at church and you answer “an hour and a half till race time.”
APPLY: All kidding aside, Nascar is one of the all time favorite American Sports. According to an ESPN poll, auto racing is the nation’s 7th most popular sport . Thirty-eight (38) percent of the population over the age of 12 say they are NASCAR fans. Other sports may have larger fan bases, but racing enthusiasts may be the most loyal. According to Nielsen data, in 1999 the auto racing series was the 2nd most watched sport - second only to the NFL regular season games.
ILLUS: According to George Pyne (a NASCAR executive in 2004) NASCAR fans come from all regions, income levels, and demographics.
One-third of all adult Americans are NASCAR fans.
40% are women.
And NASCAR is the fastest-growing sport among racial minorities who now make up 20% of its fan-base.
In addition, NASCAR is the only major sport in the U.S. which opens its weekly ceremonies with an invocation. And it’s not just any prayer – it’s almost always a Christian one, invoking the blessings of Jesus on the event and its participants.
In fact, Christian influences are prevalent in this sport - from sponsors to driver testimonies to trackside prayer services. As a privately-owned company which has sanctioned stock-car races since 1948 NASCAR makes no apologies for its connection to Christianity.
So this American sport seemed like a great backdrop to preach on the truths of Colossians 1
TURN WITH ME NOW TO COLOSSIANS 1:12-23
(Read Scripture and Pray)
Racing and Christianity have a very close mindset. According to Professor Baker (professor of history at U. of Maine who often writes in newspapers and magazine about Sports and Religion) there is a logic to evangelical Christianity and racing having a cozy relationship. He says:
“In many ways they’re similar. Both are win-loss mentalities. In evangelical Christianity you are either saved or lost. You’ve gone to heaven or you’ve gone to hell, you win or you lose and that’s what sport is all about.
Christianity IS all about winning and losing.
According to the Bible you’re either saved, or you’re lost.
There is a heaven… and there is a hell - and all of us will end up one place or the other.
But THE GOOD NEWS is that God doesn’t want us to end up in the wrong place. He doesn’t want us to lose. He wants us to win the race and enter into His presence. And he so much wants to accomplish that He has found a way for us to “qualify” for the ultimate race of life.
In auto racing, there is a process known as qualifying for a race.
If your performance is good enough - if you’re fast enough, and consistent enough - you can qualify for one of the best positions as the cars line up at the starting line.
But the Bible tells us there is a problem with us qualifying for the race to heaven.