The Super Bowl is a spectacle. Over 100 million people will see the game on television. Advertisers will pay 3.5 to 4 million dollars for a 30 second commercial. In fact, for many, the commercials are more interesting than the game. The half-time show includes iconic entertainers. Millions upon millions of dollars are bet on the event. The media coverage is non-stop.
The popularity of the Super Bowl tells us much about ourselves. It is an event where we come together in a common interest. Coming together, however, is not always a good thing. In the ancient city of Babel it’s citizens came together to make a name for themselves. God instructed both Adam and Noah, and by implication their decedents, to fill and subdue the earth. The inhabitants of Babel began to marvel at the abilities with which they had been endowed by God. They focused on what had been given to them and forgot who it was that gave them these abilities. Here is their reasoning for defying the command of God:
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4
So these people came together for a grand endeavor, one that would have dwarfed the Pyramids of Egypt or any one of the other wonders of the ancient world. In their minds this would achieve greatness to rival the authority and glory of God. But God stopped them in their tracks. Despite their grand plans they were forced to spread over all the earth.
Humans are still intent upon making a name for themselves. The Super Bowl is but one example where God is ignored and man’s greatness is celebrated. For example, after a catastrophic event, where there is dramatic loss of life and property political leaders tell us that we will prevail. We are told that the American spirit cannot be thwarted. We will rebuild and we will move on to future greatness. These claims which fail to acknowledge our minute-by-minute dependence upon the mercy of God are also attempts to make a name for ourselves. It is utter folly to proclaim that we can rebuild, recover and aspire to greatness after Katrina, Sandy, or Newtown without first seeking the face of God.
Yes, man is capable of great things because God has made man for greatness. But that greatness is only fulfilled when it is expended for the glory of God. The Super Bowl is about making the name of man great. But on Monday all that will be left of the spectacle will be bitterness for the losers and fleeting glory for the victors. This will be true for advertisers, players, bettors, and spectators alike.
Only in God is there hope that will not fade to bitterness. No amount of spectacle can ease the burden of sin. Making a name for ourselves is a cruel diversion from the ugliness of our sin and rebellion to God. May we turn in repentance from making a name for ourselves to living for the glory of God and making his name renown.