As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, I have seen the other end of what took place on Sunday Night far to often and I will first say as a Minnesota sports fan it is nice to be on the other end. I along with every other Vikings fan could not believe my eyes as Diggs caught the pass and ran it in for the touchdown. I was waiting to see a flag on the play or a step out of bounds or being ruled down by contact in bounds and have the clock run out. This time it was an amazing play that is being called the #MinneapolisMiracle.
I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts on things that I have witnessed over the last couple of days. The first thing that I want to talk about is the willingness of so many people to talk about God [or sadly probably god] and his relationship to sports. The call by Paul Allen himself and the fact that it is being called a “miracle” shows exactly what I am referring to. The word of God is found in the holy scriptures and I have yet to find anything about this game or any sporting event in the present day, so I am hard pressed to believe that God’s hand intervened in a game that has very little eternal significance and if I am wrong and he has divinely intervened he has not tould us in his word and therefore we cannot claim that he has intervened. I have also found it interesting the number of people who talk about praying for an outcome in a sporting event. Some I believe say it in jest but I am not so sure about most people. Here is the bigger concern I have and that is if you truly believe God hears your prayers which I do, I would hope that you pray for something a bit more significant than a football win. By all means, enjoy the fun and celebration but let’s keep things in perspective.
Another observation I have made reference to in other places such as Heresy in the American Religion. The reality is that sports have become our religion and that is why I truly believe that it is so easy for us to apply langue of the divine on to our sporting events. As a pastor, I pray for more people to come to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and Holy Baptism on a regular basis. That is what the Church should be about because according to the Holy Scriptures that’s what God is concerned about. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. Yet if we have a religion of sports it would make sense that we would pray for the end goal of sports and that is to win a game. The descriptions I heard of what it was like in the stadium were only more stories that confirm to me that sports are one of our biggest religions in our country. Descriptions of complete strangers who were hugging each other. People who knew nothing about one another except for one thing and that was that they both wanted the same football team to win the game. Your view of the other had to do with what jersey they had on and had nothing to do with who they themselves were. FYI you could have been high-fiving and hugging some horrible people. If you are at all familiar with biblical Christian theology you should see some stark parallels with what I have just described. Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. That robe of righteousness comes not from my self but from my savior Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. Guess what here is a dirty little secret I don’t really like everyone that I deal with on a daily basis and that includes people in the Church yet my goal as a pastor and just simply as a Christian is to see them with the same jersey that I have on, the jersey of Jesus aka the robe of righteousness which was given to me in my baptism. Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. I rejoice with believers in Christ not because I like them or in some cases even know them that well, but because we have the same victory in the same savior through an actual miracle the #EasterMiracle.
It wasn’t all bad when it came to religion on this stage. There where many interviews in which the players attempted to give glory to God and for that Christians can rejoice. There were some that got into the whole divine intervention thing but I will leave those alone as I was there once as well in my own perspective and I pray that those young men mature in their understanding of the word of God. I have to keep reminding myself that most of these guys are younger than me now as I am becoming an old man as you can tell by this grouchy old man post. The positive that I wanted to point out was Case Keenum’s ranking of events in his life. Now I strongly disagree with how he said it but I will put the best construction on it and see God’s work in it. He ranked the play the third biggest moment in his life. The second biggest moment in his life was marrying his wife. The first moment in his life was “giving his life to Jesus Christ.” Again aside from how he said it, this was a proper perspective on things. As Christians, Jesus must always be at the top to place anything above him or even equal to him is idolatry of which he invites us to repent and again receive his forgiveness.
So as you go about your week and are excited about the game this coming Sunday against the Eagles, just keep things in perspective. Enjoy life, have fun, find joy in some small things like the Minnesota Vikings finally falling into a big win, but don’t ever let those things take your focus off of the most important thing for you and that is what your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done for you in his life, death, and resurrection.
God Bless You! [and go Vikes]
Good message. Although I am more encouraged, not by the announcers and fans, but by the players themselves that give God the glory. And there has been a lot of this going around lately, most notably Carson Wentz and his testimony, the young freshman quarterback from Alabama, who gave a wonderful testimony on national television but also Stephon Diggs himself who claims that God put him in that position to make the catch, that it was part of God’s will at that moment and he recognized that and gave God the credit. There have been a lot of other testimonies to giving God the glory as well. I think it is a beautiful reflection of 1 Cori this song 10:31. No matter what we do in this life, we need to reflect God’s presence with us and give him the glory.