The High School season kicked off last Friday night all over the state of Ohio. In my opinion, there’s nothing more fun to be a part of than High School football. The communities all come together to cheer on their hometown team. The bands march into the stadium with perfect cadence. The cheerleaders are cheering. The stands are jammed packed with family and friends. The concession stands are loaded up with delicious favorites. The crowd jumps to their feet as their teams storm out on the field. I love football.
From the time I was a little boy, I can remember my family members saying that I was destined to be a preacher, or destined to play for the Cleveland Browns, no pressure! As a pastor over the years, I have had multiple people ask me this question, “Does God Care Who Wins A Football Game?” I remember hearing one pastor say, “God’s favorite football team was the Dallas Cowboys.” He would continue on,“That’s why they put a hole in the roof of their stadium; so God could look down and watch them on Sundays.” There’s no Biblical evidence of God being a Cowboys fan, but is there any for knowing if God cares who wins or loses a game?
Last Friday night, I witnessed one of the most incredible High School football games I had ever seen or been a part of. In the third quarter of the game, one team was down 17 points. There were tons of momentum shifts, turnovers, injuries, big plays and brilliant in-game coaching decisions. However, the game would eventually come down to a 19 yard field goal attempt, with 1.4 seconds left on the clock, by a teenager that was playing in his first ever High School football game. Describing his feelings before he ran out on the field, he told the local newspaper this, “I said a prayer to God while I was on the sidelines, and He answered.”
One of my personal favorite miracles that Jesus does while He is on the earth, is found in John Chapter 9. It’s a story of a man who was born blind. Some people thought he was born blind because someone had sinned, but Jesus explained that the reason the man was born blind was so that God would be glorified. So Jesus spits on the ground, mixes up the clay, anoints the man’s eyes and tells him to go wash off in a nearby pool called Siloam. I always find that part of the story so strange. Jesus could have spoken a word and the man would have been healed. He could have touched the man’s head, and the man would have been healed. Yet, Jesus performs this miracle differently; it’s an unorthodox miracle. It didn’t happen inside the walls of a beautiful church building, or while his favorite hymn was being sung. The miracle didn’t happen during a sermon from a dude in a three-piece suit. It happened when the man trusted Jesus, and obeyed Jesus. Then Jesus did a miracle in the man’s life.
Sadly, the man had some exhausting conversations, as people began asking him questions about what had happened. His neighbors thought it wasn’t really him. He assured them it was him, and he told them what Jesus did. Then some religious leaders asked him questions about what happened and they refused to believe what had happened to him. The religious leaders even asked his parents what happened, and his parents told them it was their son, but never gave Jesus credit for what had happened, because of their fear of being ridiculed and cast out of society. His parents tell them to ask him what happened. So they bring the man back in and ask him who really did this miracle, and he said these words, “I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” The religious leaders scream at the man, call him one of Jesus’ disciples and throw him out of their synagogue.
Jesus hears what happened to the man, finds him and asks him if he trusts and believes in the Son of God. The man asks who is the Son of God, and Jesus tells him that He is. The man then says these words, “Lord, I believe!” and he then worships Jesus. Well… Does God care who wins or loses a football game? When someone asks me that question, they must be picturing God up in Heaven, pacing back and forth, considering which team He will let win that day. When they ask that question, they’re not really asking about football. Rather, they’re asking if God has favorites. They’re asking if God likes some people more than others. The answer to that question is easy. God loves people! He loves everyone. Last time I checked, football players are people. So that means, God even loves big, ugly, rough and tough football players.
I guess I really don’t know if God cares who wins or loses a football game, but I do know, without a doubt, that the Bible says this in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” God may not care about football, but God cares about football players, because football players are people. I didn’t know who would win the big game last week, and I don’t know who will win the big game this week. Yet, I do know I will never forget last week, because at 2am early Saturday morning while laying in bed, I rolled over and said this to my wife, “That was unbelievable… I’m not sure why, but I still can’t believe what I just saw.” She gently said, “Would you PLEASE shut-up and go to sleep!”