It’s Only a Game - 5 Thoughts for Christians
I understand the emotional connection to football. I enjoy it and love supporting my team. However, it’s just a game played by millionaires. I was sad for a minute after the 49ers lost yesterday, but that’s where the sorrow ends. You see, I also got to watch the game with my son while enjoying amazing tamales and other delicious treats as the bright sun beamed in through our windows. I got to seem my youngest granddaughter in a 49ers jersey and until 7 minutes into the fourth quarter, my team was going to win the Superbowl.
This may come as a surprise to some, but I wasn’t on the field, yesterday. Were you? I contributed neither blood nor sweat to the 49ers season. I had no say in the plays they ran. The referees were not aware of my loud disapproval when they blew calls that went against my team and they were unable to feel my silent support when they messed up in my team’s favor. I know this may come as a shock, but Jimmy G couldn't even hear me yelling that Kittle was open.
The following are 5 thoughts that I‘d like my Christian friends to consider in the days following the Superbowl.
1. You may be able to separate your sports fan self from your Christian self, but the Lost cannot. They often view our sports-related behavior as an extension of our Christian reality. I tend to agree with them. A little teasing is part of our culture and can build camaraderie, but people can take it too far. When you're rubbing in your victory or lashing out after your loss, kindly remember that the Lost are watching. This isn’t a game.
2. How we behave when we think we have a license to “let it all fly” says a lot about our character and spiritual maturity. I recently saw a room full of Christians erupt into cheers when John MacArthur made some boorish comments about a female minister. (I’m NOT commenting on the theology, just the delivery of the theology.) It seems that they perceived his comments as a license to “let it all fly.” They cheered and jeered. It wasn’t a good look. How does your sports commentary look to others? Do you cheer wildly when the opponent's star player gets hurt? Do you speak hatefully to supporters of other teams? Are you petty or vicious in your defense of your team? Aren't we supposed to be Team Jesus before everything else? The Lost think we are. They're watching us, and this isn’t a game.
3. Sportsmanship, at its core, is an attempt to apply Christian values to sports. Through the lens of Christian culture, we attempt to discern how to answer some important questions about good behavior. How do we treat defeated opponents? How do we win well? How do we handle defeat? What comprises fair and unfair competition? Our answers to these and other such questions are important and can be a reflection of the validity of our faith. Folks, the Lost are watching us. This isn’t a game.
4. Our sports-related behavior says a lot about our true values. Reflect for a moment on the amount of money you’ll spend on a football game versus how much you’ll spend to support a Christian cause. How loud will you clap or cheer for your team? How loud do you clap or shout for Jesus In church? How much inconvenience will you endure to watch a sporting event live? How much will you endure to go to church? I’m not trying to be a jerk. It’s just that the Lost are watching and this isn't a game.
5. Now that we have entered the postmodern era, it is of the utmost importance that we Christians realize that we are no longer being asked the question, "are the factual claims of Christianity demonstrably true?" We are now being asked, "Does Christianity work?" In other words, does it do the things that it is supposed to do? Does the Christian faith demonstrably change its adherents? Does the Christian faith tangibly change the priorities and motives of its converts? Will Christians treat the weak, marginalized, or recently defeated with dignity and respect? Do they care about fairness? The Lost are watching. This isn't a game.
My Closing Thoughts: Yesterday, a promising 49ers season ended in defeat. At the same time, a promising Chiefs season ended in victory. We 49ers fans are amongst the 31 teams that ended their season in a loss. Nobody cheated. Nobody got lucky. The team that scored more points 02/02/2020 simply won. Congratulations to the Chiefs' players and the entire organization. 50 years is a long time between Super Bowl victories, so congratulations to the true, lifelong Chiefs fans. I also extend a hearty helping of respect and congratulations to Andy Reid, a great coach who finally got to win the Big One.
BTW, did anyone else find it hard to root against Mahomes? (Check out this story on him)
Colin Cowherd Reviews the Game. "It's ok to lose to great." -Cowherd