The most annoying thing about the Super Bowl is not the hype. It’s not the commercials. It’s not the halftime show. It’s not the fact that the Vikings aren’t in it, although that’s close.
No, the most annoying thing about the Super Bowl is the constant public debate over whether the prayers of players, coaches and fans are worth anything because God couldn’t possibly care about something as frivolous as a football game.
Just about everyone is wrong about this – believers and nonbelievers alike. Here’s the truth: God cares, deeply and personally, who wins the Super Bowl. I’ll show you this with Scripture in a minute, but first let’s deal with the silly insistences to the contrary.
I guess the one from atheists doesn’t require much discussion. They don’t think God cares because they don’t think God exists. Since we’ve already dealt with the question, there’s no sense going back over it.
Then there’s the objection from people who don’t call themselves atheists, but don’t really demonstrate much serious consideration of God’s nature. They usually argue something like: “I think God has more important things to worry about than the Super Bowl. I hardly think he has time to worry about a football game.”
This is an astonishingly silly argument. God is not some human CEO with limited capacity to multitask. He is not sitting at a desk with an overflowing inbox, declaring: “It’s all coming in faster than I can handle it! I need to prioritize! I need a personal assistant! Miss Crabtree, get in here!”
God doesn’t need to “focus on the important things.” Luke 12:6-7 tells us:
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Believe me, hair on your head is not that important. (Or I’d be in big trouble.) Yet God cares about every single one you have, whether they are many or, as in my case, few. There is nothing God doesn’t see, consider, understand or contemplate in the context of His overall plan for mankind.
He has unlimited capacity and He is on His game 100 percent of the time, so no matter what the issue is, God cares about it and He has mastered every detail of it.
He knows if that play was pass interference. He knows if the receiver “completed the process” and it was a catch. He knows why the pass protection is breaking down. He knows what was wrong in the quarterback’s delivery that forced the wide-open receiver to slow his stride and allow the defender to break up what should have been a 65-yard touchdown pass.
God knows, understands and cares about all of this. None of it would be happening without the gifts He gave every person on that field. He didn’t do all that for nothing. Of course He cares.
This is a fairly easy argument to knock down because it so obviously ignores the all-powerful nature of God.
But then there’s the take you sometimes get from believers, which is in many ways just as silly. It goes something like this:
“I think He cares about the people there, but I don’t think He cares about who wins. Maybe He cares if one of the winning players gives Him the glory after the game, but He doesn’t care about the score.”
Oh? This seems like a more sophisticated, spiritual take. But when you think about it, it limits God almost as much as the prior point of view.
Needless to say, if a winning player proclaims Jesus in a post-game interview, that’s a wonderful thing and surely pleasing to God. But that represents only one way God can make use of the outcome of the Super Bowl – a way that’s highly visible and obvious to us as believers. But it’s just one.
Think about all the events of your life. Think about little things that happened, things you didn’t recognize the significance of at the time but only later realized that God was working in that event, shaping you in some way, preparing you for something, setting you up for a plan He has for you in the future.
God uses all kinds of events in the lives of people, including many that you and I – in our limited understanding of things – would never think to associate with the larger plan God has in mind.
Now, consider how many people are paying attention to the Super Bowl. How many people are invested in it. How many people’s moods and spirits will be influenced tomorrow morning by whether the Patriots or Eagles win tonight. It is one of the few single events that captures the attention of hundreds of millions of people, and whose outcome will stay with us for some time after.
What can God do with that? How can He use elements of it to teach? How can He humble some who need it, while lifting up others who need it? When so many people care about the outcome of this game, there’s no way God doesn’t care. And yes, God is also receptive to the prayers of players on both teams who will pray for victory. Granting victory to some while making others deal with defeat will be enormously influential in the lives of each of these players. God knows exactly how each will respond, how they will need Him to work though the outcome, and how He can ultimately be glorified by each player’s experience.
Of course He cares who wins. One city will erupt in celebration while the other will be tempted to anger. Of course God cares about that. Tonight some fans will be elated while others will cry. A few might be so upset they will be tempted to do something harmful to themselves or others.
How could you possibly suggest God doesn’t care about that?
“OK, fine, He cares, but not like a fan would care. He doesn’t love the Patriots more than the Eagles or vice versa.”
I didn’t say he did. I said He cares about who wins. Of course His motivations are not like ours.
But I would ask you this: If God doesn’t prefer one team to another in a fan sense, but you do, then why are you at odds with God?
Enjoy the game!
It still killing me that the Vikings aren’t playing in it. I love the Vikings more than other teams. I guess one of many reasons you should worship God and not me.