Monday, November 2, 2009

Insight from the Georgia-Florida Game

The annual border war between Georgia and Florida for many years was called the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." University officials have tried to change the image of the event by changing the name. They refuse to allow people to call it that officially anymore. Even the networks have had to drop the moniker in their coverage of the game. President Bernie Machen of UF has tried to force Jacksonville to curb the selling of alcohol by outdoor vendors at the Landing and set up safe zones before, during and after the game.
It is a noble idea on the part of the presidents but I don't think the general population is getting on board. I haven't noticed a drop in the general atmosphere surrounding the game. As we approached the stadium on Saturday, it seemed just as many people were just as drunk as ever. The majority of people walking on the streets or sitting in their chairs tailgating had what appeared to be adult beverages in their hands. Some were obviously there for the party and simply tolerated the inconvenience of a football game in the middle of a two day party. There were a lot of college students doing the drinking, many of who were probably under the legal age to drink. But the majority of drinkers I witnessed were of the older variety. People who you think would have better things to do than get drunk in the middle of the afternoon. Now to be fair, many of them probably didn't get technically drunk. But how can you really tell? So let's give them the benefit of the doubt.
Whatever their Blood Alcohol levels, it is clear that you can change the name but you can't really change the event from the outside. The World's Largest Cocktail Party will continue to be so, regardless of the label that Machen or anyone else slaps on it. That's because you can't change behavior through an external law or mandate. Real behavior change can only happen from the inside out. Sounds like something Jesus said a long time ago. "It's not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what flows out of him!" Character makes a difference and the only one who can make a difference in a man's character is God through His grace. I'm thankful that God changed my character when I accepted His grace through His Son Jesus Christ in 1978. Thirty one years later, that Grace is still changing me!

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