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Spectatorship doesn’t create change.

This past Sunday at church during worship I was having a blissful moment of being fully engaged and connected to God. It was fabulous. I was swept away and completely unaware of my surroundings… for a moment. Then I got distracted. I can’t remember what it was, but something behind me caught my attention and I was immediately pulled back. I started looking around the room, watching others, thinking about how they must be feeling, noticing their clapping or raised hands.
I became a spectator. No longer a participant. And in that moment I wondered… how many events that I thought I had been a part of had I really just watched? How many church services, women’s conferences, lunch dates, family dinners, work meetings, birthday parties had I attended but not been present for?

This has become such a common phenomenon in our culture that we have actually become totally satisfied with the lesser experience. We are professional spectators – quick to judge, eager to critique, happy even to applaud and encourage, but far too timid/complacent/unaware to be a part of the action ourselves.

I thought of the Super Bowl that recently took place. How many crazy, rabid fans felt so engaged, glued to the TV, deeply invested in an outcome of a game they would never play. How many high fives and loud cheers rung out in victory from men who swore they themselves “won” when Tom Brady was really the man wearing yet another ring. To feel what he feels as the true champion… most of us will never know.

The scariest part is this – we have somehow convinced ourselves we are the players. And while the watchers receive entertainment, joy, and maybe even inspiration from the scenes before them, they will never feel the impact of the game in their own life. Spectatorship doesn’t create change. If we want that, we must be honest with ourselves about where we stand – in the bleachers or on the field. We must decide that the risk is worth the reward. We must choose to play and play full out or we take the biggest risk of all – watching our entire lives pass us by without ever truly living. Let’s get in the game.