Few seemingly neutral realities today claw for our hearts like sports and athletics. Many Christians aren’t allured in the least by spectator sports. God bless you. But for those of us who claim Jesus as Lord and also get hyped about our favorite teams, we need a regular soul-check. And especially at the onset of football season.
Sports and athletic competitions are good gifts from God, but we dare not go all-in without our eyes wide open. Not in this culture. Sport is one of the most alluring, and subtle, competitors for our heart’s deepest allegiance.
Our favorite teams are not just after our wallets; they’re after our hearts with every detail of carefully constructed game-day liturgy — from tailgating to cheers and chants, fight songs and the national anthem, concessions and fireworks, the rhythms and habits of what it means to be a fan. Watching football has become deeply religious for millions, and for the Christian, becoming aware of the draw that our favorite teams have on us is not meant to spoil our sanctified enjoyment, but to preserve it.
And college and professional football have a particularly powerful effect on its faithful. I confess, I’m excited about the new professional football stadium in town — and even more excited about my favorite college team — and I want to save myself, and those I love, the long-term grief of my being unhealthily engaged.
Seventy Thousand Worshipers
For years, we Minnesotans have been looking forward to this weekend. Our pro-football Vikings play their first regular-season game in the new billion-dollar stadium in downtown Minneapolis — and against our rivals from one state over, the Green Bay Packers.