by Chuck Ness
Millions of Americans are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl today and like others, I'll will be watching it with my family. It does make me wonder, though, about what we are teaching our children.
Throughout history men have worshiped many false gods, and today is no different. Probably the most popular false god of modern times would be the "sports god". Think about the way we raise our children to worship this false god. We will spend more time and effort to get them involved and interested in sports then we do in teaching them the Word of God. In essence we are telling them, "this is what is really important." We will rush around with more excitement and punctuality to get them to participate in practice and the game than we ever would to get them to church, not to mention the fact that Americans are rarely so strict about our children devoting a moment of the day to devotional reading of the Bible. Fact is, most families in the US have lives that revolve around their childrens' sports programs more than their spiritual life.
Americans are spending billions on sports. Many cities have vast sport stadiums that have become the equivalent of modern cathedrals. While these edifices are large and grossly expensive, chances are most cities involved are even planning even bigger and more expensive stadiums to worship their "sports god". If aliens came from another planet to visit us they would no doubt conclude that these vast sports complexes are the primary places of worship for our metropolitan areas.
Now don't get me wrong, God does not frown upon sports. It's my belief that He invented sports as a diversion for us to pass time, get exercise, and learn to work together. However He does not want humans to replace worship for Him with worship for sports, and sports heroes.
I must admit that I have in the past allowed myself to put so much emphasis upon sports, and the NFL especially, that it dictated my very happiness at times. Many Christians get so excited about pro football that they even stop attending church and stay home on Sundays to watch their team play. The NFL has done a masterful job of replacing Sunday worship in a church with Sunday worship at home in front of the television. When you think about the fact that there is College football on Saturday, professional football on Sunday and even football on Monday night, it really doesn't leave much time for the average football fan to even think about God, let alone attend church from September to February. You could even easily suggest that in the minds of many football fans the highly paid coaches of the NFL are like high priests and the players in essence are also priests but of a lower order. As in many churches, these priests of a lower order can do no wrong as far as their congregations are concerned. True, a fan may deride the bad behavior of a player from another team, but they will make excuses for a player of their own team that may be guilty of the same sin.
This is very similar to the way congregations will defend their own priests while pointing fingers at priests from other congregations, denominations, or religions. These players who should be role models are drawing salaries in the millions of dollars, all the while too many of them display extremely poor judgment as they continue to be bad examples for the children we are raising to worship the 'sports god". Far too many of these priests have been prosecuted for various offenses, including murder. Is it any wonder the fans themselves will then display such offensive behavior that when a team wins a championship they all but burn down their own city in jubilation. Who can blame them when their own priests are guilty of many of the same types of behavior? After all, they are just emulating their role models; it makes sense that the congregation would become destructive hooligans.
Psalm 115:8 has an alarming commentary on the worship of false gods. It says:
"Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them."In short, we are destined to become like the gods we worship. Paul told the Romans;
"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." Romans 1:28It would be wise for us to look to God and His word before we decide how much of our time and allegiance we give this modern 'Sports god". We must make up our minds about who will really be our God. When Joshua stepped down as the leader of Israel, he challenged the people by declaring:
"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 4:15I ask you today, how will you serve the Lord? Will you be able to serve him with the enthusiasm that the pagans have in serving their gods? Can you spend more time with the One true God, then they do with theirs? Can you spend more time, money and energy on Jehovah than they do on their false gods. If not, then shame on you! When asked by a leader of the Jews what was the most important commandment of all, Jesus told him:
"'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:29-30True service and true worship is giving every thought, every ounce of strength, every dream, and every desire to the worship and service of the true lover of your soul, God. True worship for God is doing what the congregation of the NFL does for their god, and that is becoming excited, really excited over Him. When we are able with God's help to accomplish this, we may find ourselves even dancing wildly before the Lord like David did when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem.2Samuel 6:12-14 Then the church will produce a shout of victory that far exceeds any that has ever been heard at an NFL service. Can you imagine that? Trust me, one day it will happen. In the mean time, enjoy the Super Bowl, but don't worship the game.
I pray that those who have ears to hear will hear His voice and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.