Virtual Voices
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., site of Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Associated Press/Photo by Charlie Riedel
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., site of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

God’s Super Bowl

Sports

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?

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The Public Religion Research Institute, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life,” conducted a survey that found that more than half of American sports fans believe God plays a role in the outcome of sporting events. As Creator of all things, He does more than play a role.

Christians and unbelievers alike might ask whether God cares about such “insignificant” events as football games, with so many other “important” matters in the world. It might seem ridiculous and even wasteful to ask God to grant our prayers about which team wins or loses the Super Bowl. I’ve done the “Please, please, God, let them win!” thing, but my reasons for wanting a team to win are sin-tainted and selfish. I don’t think He allows my team to win because I want it. He allows a particular team to win or lose because He wills it.

The first time I read the Bible, I was amazed by how events and themes tied together. For instance, we know that when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery it was God’s will. And though they meant evil by it, God meant it for good. In a similar way, the outcome of a sporting event advances God’s purposes. God created us for His glory, and it is our purpose to glorify Him. We can do this in our daily lives in innumerable ways—through righteous living, joyful giving, witnessing, and even dying. The omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God cares about what’s in a football player’s heart, how he interacts with his teammates, and how he conducts himself. The believing player glorifies God by exhibiting good sportsmanship and by being humble in victory and gracious in defeat.

One game can work to further God’s ends in different ways. A stunning defeat might be exactly what an unbelieving player needs to change his life for the better and seek out God. A thrilling victory can accomplish the same purpose for the unbelieving player who gets the ring. A game’s result affects individuals connected to that player. And on and on. Whenever I try to wrap my mind around God’s purposes, I imagine creation as a mosaic: God sees the whole image and knows how the pieces fit together; we see the pieces and can only glimpse the whole.

The apostle Paul tells us that all things work together for good to God’s elect, some of whom are still, at his moment, under His wrath. The final result of a mere football game—whether for players, coaches, cheerleaders, or at-home spectators—can be the means through which God convicts the unbeliever and deepens the believer’s faith. He can and does use what some might consider trivial for His purposes.

Yes, God does care who wins the Super Bowl.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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