Put the Buffalo wings down and step away from the game.
It’s Game, over, this morning… but the effect lingers on. The contrast between the Super Bowl and the State of the Union (the political competition) is stark: a recent survey of Human Resource pros says that 27% of employees have missed work the day-after the annual NFL extravaganza. The majority of those corporate hall monitors believe that the next Federal Holiday should be Super Bowl (with SB Monday “off”). The morning after the State of the Union will probably be just-another-day…
It’s already a holiday, at churches. On any typical Sunday, the national worship attendance is 20% of the population. In America, men are outnumbered (51%/49%); at church in America, the gender ratios are exaggerated: women hold a 61%/39% superiority any given weekend. For the annual Super Bowl Sunday service… those numbers oscillate. Where are the men?
The ballots are still being counted, but over 100 million people parked in front of televisions – from bedrooms to bars – to watch Tom Brady do it again. Over 100 players on the field last night in Atlanta, but only one has six Super Bowl wins credited to his offensive leadership. Love him or hate him, you have to recognize talent, whether grudging or gleeful: 10 points in the final minutes of the 4th Quarter – after an anemic scoring performance from both teams, over the prior three hours (minus myriad commercials and half-dressed B-List halftime musicians) was enough to get the crowd on their feet and tuned-in. The last moments of the last quarter of the last game of the year are electrifying…
Paul the Tentmaker is in the Christian Hall of Fame. Brady may make it to the NFL shrine in Canton, Ohio when his time comes, but the Apostle Paul’s statue is already in the entry lobby of the virtual biblical museum. Though his writings provide snippets (“verses” in Sunday School jargon) that are memorized by women around the world, his target audience was very co-ed. Though there was no American football in the 1st Century Roman Empire, athletic competition was already a widespread phenomenon. Running was the contest that crossed cultures, and provided a constant metaphor for Paul’s spiritual coaching. Is this Scripture, or Sports Illustrated?
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9).
“Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.” (Galatians 2).
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5).
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4).
It’s Game over, for the 2018 NFL season. But, it’s Game on for the march toward the completion of the Great Commission. Some Christians are watching the action on religious television; some have season tickets at their church, and attend occasionally/frequently to catch a few series of downs. For you (and most readers of this weekly challenge), you’re on-the-field, and in the middle of the fight. The Kingdom is destined to win; the warriors who suited-up and played a part will leave with their ring (for us, it’s crowns). Super Bowlers wear those rings for life; Kingdom Commissioners will wear their crowns for eternity.
The stands are jammed with a home-town crowd cheering you on:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” (Hebrews 12).