I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan and have been ever since I can remember. Growing up almost everyone I knew rooted for the Cardinals with the exception of a few odd Kansas City Royals fan.
I grew up watching their games on TV and listening to them on the radio in the family car. My parents would take us to Cardinal games to cheer our team on. When I moved to Illinois I stayed loyal to my team. I was even blessed to marry a fellow Cardinals fan and we continue the tradition of watching, listening, and going to games together.
We may be fans of different teams and squabble like siblings among ourselves, but we’ll always be a part of something greater in our Southern Baptist family through Christ.
I wouldn’t dream of supporting any other team. I am a member of Cardinals Nation, which feels like being part of a family. The atmosphere of camaraderie at the games is exciting. After games, we’ve spent the night at hotels near Busch Stadium and have gone down to breakfast to find the Cardinal mascot Fredbird the Redbird greeting people and posing for pictures with hungry fans.
At one time we even had Cardinal vanity plates on our car. I can remember being stopped at a red light a few times and having the person in the car next to us motion for the window to be rolled down. When we complied they would ask, “What’s the score?” Trips to games on I-55 often include pulling into a rest stop or restaurant. Fans decked out in Cardinal red apparel, who are perfect strangers, strike up conversations with each other about the team and the game they are on way to see.
I can relate this feeling and experience with being a Southern Baptist. My mother started attending our local Baptist church when I was just a few years old. She faithfully took all three of us kids for years until my father became a Christian when I was 12. Then church truly became a family affair. We all were part of a loving church family that worshiped, laughed, cried, and grew together.
Our own church family was part of a larger family of churches in our association, state convention, and national SBC. When we visit other churches and gather for annual meetings and conventions, we feel that same kinship as Christians and as Southern Baptists.
There is much more involved in my being a Southern Baptist than there is my being a Cardinal fan. The beliefs of my Baptist family and its commitment to the Lord are at the core of my being. In my life I’ve studied other denominations and visited their houses of worship, but none have the same belief in God and seek to follow him the way Southern Baptists do.
I suspect the same is true of many of you who are fans of the Cubs, White Sox, and other teams. We may be fans of different teams and squabble like siblings among ourselves, but we’ll always be a part of something greater in our Southern Baptist family through Christ.