Faith and Football

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. I’d be hard-pressed not to watch it or even claim not knowing what it is. For many, football on any Sunday is a religion (Church is a different story).

I attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Super Bowl breakfast yesterday here in NJ. It was a blessing not just to see some old friends involved with Christian sports ministries, but also heard the absolute best set of testimonials in the 17 years I’ve been involved with this yearly breakfast.

I left realizing football can indeed be good for the soul.

Jesus wishes us to be servants to Him and to our fellow man. A football team requires every player to put his personal agenda below the teams.  He learns that unless each player fulfills his role on offense, defense and special teams, the entire team will suffer.  Self-centeredness must give way to serving the team.

Romans 8:29 tells us God wants our character to be formed like Jesus, and football is a character building enterprise.  Learning how to win and lose gracefully happens by playing football. Working hard toward a worthy goal and paying the price of self-sacrifice is learned playing football.  Getting along with people who are different from you and appreciating their differences is learned playing football.

The concept of stewardship is paramount in the Bible.  I Corinthians 4:2 tells us that we are stewards (managers) of all that God gives us, and we are to be faithful.  Football players are given special gifts of size, speed and strength.  They are given a huge platform of the most popular sport in America.  When they faithfully use their gifts and excel at their sport, they are being good stewards of what God has given them.

Now there’s a lot of what happens around football that isn’t good for the soul; but that’s the case in everything we find in this fallen world. The key today for Christians is not to be caught up in the secular trappings that surround today and instead, rejoice in knowing God uses sports to teach (and that’s why I remain so involved in multiple Christian sports ministries).

While I’m rooting for the Falcons, a Patriots win will give at least three men an opportunity to practice humility in front of hundreds of millions of people. How the Commissioner of the NFL, the owner of the Patriots and Tom Brady interact with one another when together after the game, will be watched and spoken about like wildfire. I hope for their souls that they remember Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”