Monday, January 18, 2010

Is God a Patriots Fan?

With the Super Bowl fast approaching, the issue of whether or not God is rooting for a particular team to win always seems to surface. I find this to be one of the more intriguing questions given that sports entertainment has become more of a religion today than the God of the Bible.

I want to begin addressing this question by mentioning a couple of quotes from Tom Brady, the three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of the New England Patriots. After Brady won his third Super Bowl in 2005 he was asked if he would still have the competitive drive to come back next year and compete for another championship after already winning three at the tender age of 27 (an NFL record). Brady’s response was both intriguing and insightful. He stated that after the initial euphoria wore off from winning his third championship, he asked himself, “Is this it? Surely there has to be more.”

More? Surely Brady was joking. He was at age 27 the epitome of success – three time champion, Brad Pitt type good looks, Hollywood actress girlfriend on his arm, and yet he was unsatisfied. The world would say his answer depicted his competitive spirit of wanting to be the greatest QB ever but I say his response goes much deeper. His response speaks of a spiritual void. You see for every person there is a spiritual void that we try to fill with all sorts of things – work, relationships, kids, hobbies, but yet we find ourselves very unsatisfied. “Because the mind of the flesh, with its carnal thoughts and purposes is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God's Law; indeed it cannot.” (Romans 8:7)

In his book, 3:16: The Numbers of Hope, Max Lucado says that when a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is looking for God. So too with Brady. His question speaks of a void that seems untouched by his unmatched success. Subsequently, when Brady was asked a couple of years ago if he ever considered what God thought of his success, he said that he didn’t believe that “God gave a [expletive] if he could throw a football or not.”

On this account, Brady could not be more wrong and I believe this gets to the crux of our discussion about God’s sports interest. God most certainty does care that Brady can throw a football. He gave him the talent and ability. He also gave Brady a stage unlike anybody else to not only showcase that ability but to glorify God. I know Brady has never claimed to be a Christian but the Bible says God has fearfully and wonderfully made each of us (Psalm 139:13-14) and that our purpose from our birth has always been to serve and glorify Him in all that we do. “All has been heard; the end of the matter is this: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God's providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun].” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Winning or losing is not really the point with God. I would suggest that God gets more glory from a Christian who loses a big game and displays graciousness and humbleness than from a multiple champion who only glorifies himself. Rudyard Kipling wrote a wonderful poem called “If” in which he states, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.” I believe this is God’s view as it relates to his children whether they are athletically gifted or not. He is looking for the individual that seeks to glorify Him on the playing field, at the office building, within the home.

In the end God will hold us all accountable for the talents and abilities we have been given and how we have used them to prosper His gospel. He will not look at Tom Brady any different than me or you as the Bible says God is not a respector of persons (Acts 10:34-35). He will look at how we responded to His revelation of Himself in our lives and how we used the gifts and talents He bestowed upon us for good and Super Bowl rings will be of no consequence.

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