Photo Credit: @NAYCRUMORS
You’ve heard the statement (or some iteration of it) before: “God doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl.” God’s got more important things to worry about, the statement suggests - more serious things like world hunger and human trafficking - than to care which over-paid athletes capture a coveted prize, right?
Wrong. God doesn’t limit care only to refugees fleeing war-torn areas and those who are in grave life and death situations.
He also cares about Steph Curry, and the other players in the NBA, particularly those who follow Him. God cares about their desires, their character, their careers and their relationship with their Creator. And He has plans for them, just like Jeremiah 29:11 says. God has plans to prosper them and to give them a hope and a future—a future that may or may not include a NBA championship. To say that God neither cares nor intervenes because His deity automatically positions Him above the “petty” concerns of people isn’t congruent with the image of a personal God that we see in the Scripture: the God who knew each of us in our mothers’ wombs, the God who promised goodness and mercy to us all of the days of our lives, the God who instructed us to throw all of our cares onto Him.
When we say that God doesn’t care about who wins this trophy, or that award, (whether it’s on a national, global or local level), we buy into the lie that there is an intrinsic dichotomy between the affairs of God and the affairs of people, when there isn’t. We elevate God to a status that He himself has chosen not to maintain.
Let’s not forget that Jesus’ first miracle involved turning water into wine at a wedding. (Somebody got seriously hooked up in this scenario!) Similarly, when Lazarus died and Jesus decided to pull the “raise a man from the dead” card from His miracle deck, I’d argue that it was as much for Mary and Martha (a specific answer to their personal prayers), as it was for the world (a display of God’s limitlessness power).
While the story of Lazarus shows God’s ability to intervene in grave situations, @@we limit the display of God’s power in our and others’ lives when we think that God cares only about “spiritual” things like salvation and healing,@@ and that He doesn’t care anything at all about the big event that we’re hosting. And because we don’t think that He cares, we don’t get to see Him pull off a “Did you see that?!” miracle. We have not because we ask not.
We don’t realize that God wants to do so many of these “spiritual” things through our work, family and play: through our birthday parties, hospital visits, political protests, and yes—even basketball games.
Let’s be clear: our society idolizes professional sports and athletes. This is sin. But God doesn’t choose to be non-existent in these games as a result. Instead, He asks to be glorified. Every time Steph Curry points up to God after he makes an AMAZING shot, it’s his way of declaring the truth of Acts 17:28: “For in Him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are His offspring.’” Yes, some people roll their eyes when Curry does this, but he understands that his ability to do what he does physically and mentally exists only because of the gifts that God deposited inside of him.
@@God is with Curry, with 2:37 left, doing His thang, just like He’s helping the stay-at-home mom who is struggling to teach her autistic son.@@ What is that thing? I don’t know exactly, but I know that it involves being conformed to the image and likeness of Christ. I know that it involves humility and the fruits of the Spirit—cause whether we find ourselves having to take the winning shot or having to clean up a child or spouses’ vomit—God is seeking to work in us and through us. This is His will.
Russell Wilson’s retelling of the play that cost the Seattle Seahawks the ability to defend their Super Bowl title is a perfect example. NESN.com reported Wilson’s account of the moment, as told to the Rock Church in San Diego:
“The play happens, and they pick the ball off. And I take three steps,” Wilson told pastor Miles McPherson and a large crowd Sunday. “And on the third step God says to me, ‘I’m using you. … I want to see how you respond. But most importantly, I want them to see how you respond.”
This story illustrates how God is active in the lives of His children. @@Sometimes professional success is the outcome, sometimes defeat is the outcome, but deeper character is always God’s ultimate desire.@@ God gives us what we need, so that He can be glorified and so that His purposes for our lives are fulfilled.
How then are we to pray when either participating in or watching a sports game?
We can start by doing what 1 Peter 5:7 says and “throw” all of our cares and worries onto God “because He cares” for us. If we’re playing in a championship game, or going after a big job, we can take our cares and desires to God and trust that we will be taken care of.
And then, we can do what 1 Peter 5:6 says and “humble” ourselves before God. This means submitting to what God wills and allows, whether the outcome feels favorable or not. This means praying for God’s ultimate desires for us, rather than our desires for ourselves. This means giving thanks whether we win or not.
This playoff season, let’s not play ourselves by acting as if God ain’t invested in the outcome. @@Instead, let’s move with God and pray, “God, Your kingdom come in Steph Curry’s life. God, Your will be done in Lebron’s life. Amen.”@@
@@Let’s combat our culture’s obsession with sports and instead give glory to the Real MVP.@@