I know who I’ll be rooting for in this year’s Super Bowl. Provided they get there. But if their division-winning game last Sunday is any indication…they will.
I like watching football, and always root for the home team no matter what, and let me tell you, that’s a big, sorry, pitiful what most years, especially this one. But when my home team isn’t playing (like in the playoffs), I choose my preferred team like most women do…based on who has the hunkiest quarterback. Not really, although that helps. I cheer for the team whose quarterback and other key players I like or respect for their character. And ideally, for their faith in Christ.
So last Sunday I was hoping for a New Orleans victory over Minnesota ‘cause Drew Brees is a Christian and seems like a good, family man, and…after all, he’s a Saint. The Bible says the saints are conquerors and favored by God, so of course I should favor them also. But I didn’t know anything about Vikings’ quarterback Case Kennum or any of the other Minnesota players. Until after that miraculous last second touchdown.
“God is so good,” Keenum told Fox in a televised interview after the game. “It’s probably the third best day of my life; the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ, the day I married my wife, and probably this one.”
“I ran the route, my QB gave me a great throw. God took care of the rest,” [Stefon] Diggs, a former standout at the University of Maryland, told ESPN after the game. “If you watch the play, a guy ran into another guy. I give all the glory to God. I give him the praise on this praise Sunday.”
Well, I’ll be. These guys are saints too! So wouldn’t it be great if they win the Super Bowl in their home stadium with millions of people watching and hearing them give praise to God then? Yes, it would. But…they’re playing the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday for the NFC Championship, and after reading what the Eagles’ injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz said in response to Keenum’s comment, I may find myself somewhat conflicted regarding the outcome.
“Preach brotha! Love that!” Wentz, a devout Christian, tweeted Sunday night.
Spectating and skeptating
At any rate, I think we can expect God to be thanked and praised no matter which team wins that game. And it’s this outspokenness of some Christian athletes that draws ridicule from some outspoken skeptics. They would say something like, “It’s one of my biggest pet peeves…’God is good’ says Keenum. What about the other team? God seems like an [expletive] to me, because that was one hell of a hard loss for the Saints.” Or, no matter who wins they’ll think God was on their side and if he’s on both sides he’s really not on either so what are they praising him for? Or perhaps, God cares about who wins a stupid football game but children are dying from cancer…yeah…I’ll believe in that God. Not.
Others are unimpressed with the credit given to God by athletes making multiple millions of dollars a year. If you’ve got it easy, it’s easy to praise him…let’s see how grateful he is when he’s taken to the locker room on a stretcher with a career-ending injury.
All of these complaints and objections are understandable. But it’s a lack of true understanding of Christian faith that leads to them. We believe God is good no matter if we win or lose, and more importantly for this matter, that he is in control of all things. So if circumstances are to our liking it is perfectly legitimate to thank and praise God because we know he could have orchestrated them otherwise.
Christianity is for wimps too
It’s interesting that so many professional athletes are unashamed to testify of their faith in Christ. I believe God may be blessing with success those NFL players who belong to him just so they will give him glory and praise. Not because he’s narcissistic, but so that many proud, stubborn spectating men can see that Christianity is not just for wimps. Yeah, Jesus loves wimps too, but even powerfully strong, masculine men with crazy football skills can humble themselves enough to recognize that they need God as much as wimps do. And have no problem telling that to the world.