Christian Jargon and Super Bowl Bingo

Woohoo! First down and six at the 39 yard line. Running back up the middle. Breaks the double team. Bradley at the 39.

I was trying to be a good sport. Watching the first football game since high school and playing Super Bowl Bingo with a bunch of friends, I was struggling to keep up. The terms on my Bingo card were confusing and unfamiliar.

"Was that a punt?" I asked.

"No, that was a kick off."

"Did he just make a field goal?"

"Nope. That was the extra point."

And apparently, the box marked At the 50 Yard Line meant on the 50 yard line, not the 49th or the 51st. The box I'd eagerly crossed off was disqualified. The longer I played, the more stupid I felt.

Sitting there squirming, I wondered if this was how new believers felt in a room full of Christians. People who know the lingo and effortlessly banter it about.

"You should start by reading the Gospels."

"Uh, I haven't been able to find a book in the Bible by that name."

"Who would be willing to intercede on his behalf?"

"Is that the same thing as intervention? 'Cause we had to do that for one of my cousins once."

Many of us have been Christians for so long we've forgotten what it's like to be new to matters of faith. 

Thankfully, my friend Sandy, a football aficionado, took me under her wing. She patiently explained the confusing verbiage and coached me into the fourth quarter. 

Fourth down.

Field goal.

Penalty flag.

BINGO!  In 51 seconds of playing time, my three boxes lined up for the win. A generous gift certificate prize did much to ease my embarrassment and smooth over my display of ignorance in such a public venue, but new believers wrestling with similar emotions don't often receive such a prize.

My Super Bowl angst has made me more sensitive to visitors and newcomers at our church. Like my friend Sandy, I want to come alongside them, decode the jargon, and help them feel comfortable. That way, they'll want to come back. 

And the more they come back, the sooner they'll learn that not only do we love them, but God loves them, too.

And love is a word we all understand.

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