United and transforming
"Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." I Peter 2.10
Is the current enthusiasm sweeping Scotland for our national football team an excuse for a burst of jingo-ism or is it an expression of social cohesion? Perhaps it is simply an antidote to the frustrations of lockdown or, more positively, a long-awaited breakthrough in the country's favourite sport? Maybe it is all of these? Does that justify setting aside classes in school to fuel the fervour among children at the expense of the education that they so urgently need to catch up on? If it helps convey the "life lesson" that our shared values as a community are significant - the essence of citizenship, if you like - then perhaps.
Belonging to something greater than ourselves and the narrow interest groups into which we instinctively retreat is an important aspect of coming to faith in God through Jesus. We are not only "born again" as new creatures, we are "adopted" into a new family: the family of faith, in which God is our father and our siblings are drawn from every tribe and nation, colour and class. Peter describes the transition in terms of a new identity. For Paul it is about inclusiveness: neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free - all one in Christ.
As sport unites fans across social and even national divides, so there is something transcendent about faith. Therefore maybe we should do this more often: put aside what we are doing and unite behind our national team in whichever sport Scotland happens to be competing? Imagine the euphoria when we win! In the meantime we might discover shared values we never realised we had in common...