The Super Bowl is a major cultural event. Today’s post contains thoughts about this year’s game. I’ll also include links to previous posts about this game. It is important to think biblically about this highly visible part of our culture. Take a look at this post and the previous ones and let us know your thoughts!
Greg Doyle is a writer for CBS Sports. He is a good sports reporter and I enjoy his work. I also believe that he represents what many think about the role of sports in our culture. As you may know, Tim Tebow and his mother are going to be featured in an ad sponsored by Focus on the Family during this year’s Super Bowl. Mr. Doyle provides this description of what he thinks the ad will be like:
Apparently the commercial has a beautiful, undeniable message. Tebow’s mother suffered a life-threatening infection during that pregnancy, and doctors advised her to abort the baby. She didn’t. She named him Tim. Just typing this paragraph gives me goose bumps. The commercial might just make me cry.
Yet, Mr. Doyle is offended by the ad. Why? Because it is airing during the Super Bowl. Listen carefully to his reasons for not wanting the ad to run. His comments honestly reflect his priorities.
And I’m not complaining about the ad because it’s anti-abortion and I’m not. I’m complaining about the ad because it’s pro-politics. And I’m not. Not on Super Sunday. If you’re a sports fan, and I am, that’s the holiest day of the year. That’s a day for five hours of football pregame shows and four hours of football game and three hours of postgame football analysis. That’s a day for football addicts to gorge themselves to the gills on football.
It’s not a day to discuss abortion. For it, against it, I don’t care what you are. On Super Sunday, I don’t care what I am. Feb. 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion.
This is a clear statement of allegiance. There is deep passion voicing these thoughts. Sports is at the center of Mr. Doyle’s life. He clearly believes there is room for other things–just not on Super Sunday. This view would be fine in a world where man decided his own fate, determined what was moral and what was not, and God was not a jealous God who requires undivided worship and fidelity from man. But that is not the world we live in. We live in God’s world, in which he determines where we live, move and have our being (Acts 17:24-28). So issues like abortion, sexual purity, and personal holiness and righteousness matter every day, even on Super Sunday. The living God of the Bible will not be pre-empted, even for a day.
Despair and difficulty burden many in our culture because they have embraced Mr. Doyle’s worldview. To be sure, he is not the originator of this viewpoint, he is just a subscriber. But living with anything other than God at the center of life is living in the world of idolatry. Idolatry always leads to despair because it can never deliver on the promises it makes. To quote from Tim Keller’s latest book, Counterfeit Gods, idolatry can happen anytime someone takes a good thing and makes it the ultimate thing. In this sense, only God is ultimate, because no one or nothing else can compare to him. Idolatry may focus on things that are evil in themselves, but not necessarily. It can also result from taking something that is good in its proper context (like sports), and making that thing more important than anything else. If I make sports ultimate, to the point where I put aside issues of morality and holiness, then at least three things happen. The first is that sports will become the center of my life. The second is that relationships with others will be secondary to this primary pursuit. The third thing is that sports will turn out to be a cruel god, for it cannot deliver what it is that it promises. So all of the time that has been invested in the pursuit of this idol will come to yield emptiness.
Are Christians ready to state clearly what is most important in life? For Greg Doyle the ultimate thing is sports. But that answer won’t do. God demands all of our worship and attention each day. It does matter whether or not infants are killed in the womb. It does matter whether or not drunkenness is permissible when your team wins the big game. It does matter if you look at women to lust after them. It does matter whether or not God has first place in your life. It does matter whether or not men respond to the gospel.
Next Monday the game will be over. But the real, pressing issues of life will remain. There is only one path that allows you to live in harmony with God’s purposes. That is the path you must point out to your children each day. Jesus Christ is Lord of Lord and King of Kings. The spectacle that is the Super Bowl attempts to say that, just for few hours, something else is ultimate. But that is a lie, an idol that delivers only emptiness. In this sense, the idol of sports is symbolic of any pursuit other than living all of life for the glory of God. As Christians we need to live with fidelity to our King and Savior. We will not be perfect in our pursuit, but we must be consistent with it. May we show our children and people like Greg Doyle what is truly important and fully holy in life. May we take hold of life that is truly life.
This post is from a recent Shepherd Press Newsletter. The newsletter is a good way to introduce others to Shepherd Press. Please consider encouraging your friends and those at your church to sign up for the newsletter. Each week there is a timely article and also information about Shepherd Press products, as well as special offers. You can sign up for the newsletter here.