Let me be blunt: Western culture, with its insistence on individual status and achievement, is lying to you. Its roots lie in ancient Greek philosophy, not biblical revelation. In the words of the atheist Jean-Paul Sartre, one of existentialism’s most famous proponents: “Things are entirely what they appear to be—and behind them ... there is nothing.” (We should not be surprised that the novel in which these words appear is titled Nausea.)
Why do millions love March Madness?
One reason relates to the sense of chaos that infuses the games with an air of unpredictability. Upsets are common and, unless they happen to your school, we get to embrace the seeming randomness of each game’s outcomes without being personally invested in the results. We can root for the underdogs without any sense of disappointment when they lose. There aren’t many other areas of our lives where we can emotionally invest in something without any real risk if it doesn’t go our way.
However, the second reason is, perhaps, more relevant to our larger calling as Christians. March Madness—and, more specifically, the brackets, competitions, and good-natured fun that frequently accompany it—creates a sense of community for those who take part. It gives people a common interest to unite around and experience together. Even people who don’t care all that much about the sport can be included alongside those who live and breathe basketball.
Families and communities are real work and, through them, God works on us, in us, and through us. What if the ordinary tasks of life together are the front lines of the kingdom of God? What if it’s in the context of our daily relationships, including those that seem mundane, that we are most fully serving God? Many in the Church are ready to die for the Faith, but far less are willing to live for it.
Sin hinders our spiritual life by isolating us from the Holy Spirit and the power source God intends for our lives. But, living in genuine community functions as a guard to prevent such strain. We hold each other accountable for our failings and encourage each other to be and do our best. Three interrelated consequences follow.
All around us, people are looking for healing and relief, which is why it is critical we share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. But how we do that is just as important. I would like to offer an acronym to help us share the Gospel with our friends, neighbors, family members, coworkers and everyone else we come in contact with — Jesus style — “B.L.A.S.T.”
Dr. Barbara Lee Fredrickson is a psychology professor and head of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina. She and her team surveyed six hundred Americans to ask about their daily activities and correlate them with the degree to which they experienced negative or positive emotions. Dr. Fredrickson’s research found that we are happier and more resilient when we face the pandemic and other challenges with others in community.