What do the NFL and Christianity have in common? You will be surprised at how much they do have in common!
It is almost NFL season and although I am no expert on American Football, the basics of the game can help us to learn how we represent Christianity in our churches and to the world.
Football’s Positive Aspects
#1 Teamwork in the NFL and Christianity
The number one positive aspect of any NFL game is teamwork. Each of the players on the team dedicate time for physical practice. Once the official games begin, they know their plays and work hard to execute them perfectly to win the game. They pass, run or kick the ball to win points. Each player depends on the others to know their jobs and to be where they should be on any given play. They work in tandem, keeping the same goal in mind.
Every player also knows that they are an integral part of their team. Each player hones their personal skills in order to benefit the entire team. It is understood that if they do not show up or don’t perform well, victory is out of the question and, possibly, their jobs will be in jeopardy.
How does all this relate to Christianity?
Football players fully understand the concept of teamwork and its benefits.
Among followers of Christ it is important for us to also know how to work on a team.
Each one of us needs to know what position we play in the body of Christ. We need to know what gifts and talents we can bring to the game. While we develop these gifts, we can fill in the gaps by serving the needs of those more experienced ‘players’. The water boys,the cheerleaders and the guys who drive the little injury carts are all an essential part of the game, too, aren’t they? So it is in the Christian world. Any little task that a church needs done to function fluidly needs to be attended to in order for the whole team to work as one.
** and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness ** 1 Corinthians 12:23
If we don’t know which part we play, or if we do not know what our gifts are, our Christian team will not be as effective as it could be. While we are finding our gifts, we can still serve and help in many ways that will keep the ‘church team’ on the field. Not understanding the importance of teamwork can greatly affect the outcome of the ‘Christian game’.
#2 The game is won when the players show up prepared
A good football team works as one, but they also prepare individually so they can bring their best on game day. Day after day and week after week, they train on the fundamentals at home, and also when they are together practicing as a team. NFL players have to be disciplined and focused. Regular training is vital to success.
Christianity is like an NFL game and its players because we should also be training daily, weekly and monthly. We should train at home and together. The same discipline that it takes to win an NFL game applies to how we ‘win’ at Christianity. We need to be prepared to win the Christianity game (i.e: win souls for Christ and glorify God). Training daily on the fundamentals will make Christianity a powerful team. It doesn’t happen by accident, nor does God wave a magic wand over his children and then a perfect church magically appears. Football teams have to learn how to work together, so do Christians.
A professional NFL team does not expect to win a game if they show up unprepared, and neither should Christians.
What are these fundamentals of Christianity that need to be daily honed?
Reading the Bible every day. Praying for one another. Serving one another. Showing charity (agape love) and learning to forgive the intentional and unintentional elbows and tackles of the game in order to finish all four quarters.
**I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. … Ephesians 4:1-3
#3 The NFL and Christianity both have a Captain and a Coach
A third positive aspect of the NFL is the ability to follow the instructions of the captain and coach.
If every player decided to play the way they wanted to play and ignored the instructions of their coaches, the game would end in chaos and a score of ‘0’. When a player thinks he knows more than his coach or captain, it causes stress and division for the whole team.
In Christianity, we also have a Captain and a Coach. The Lord is the Captain of our souls and He has given us pastors and teachers to ‘train us in the way we should go’.
** For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. ** Hebrews 2:10 (emphasis mine)
When any individual chooses to openly defy the instructions of these leaders, division and chaos are the result in the church community, also, isn’t it? There will be no spiritual touch downs or field goals. We will also finish the day with a big, fat zero!
We, as Christians, have the # 1 All Star Captain in Jesus Christ. He knows the whole game plan and He knows the final outcome. Whether we follow our Captain or not, His game will be played. The question is, “will we be standing on the podium with Him or not at the end of the ‘season’ ?”
A great football team starts with a great captain and coach. Only one great player will not win games. But a great coach and a committed team are unstoppable. So it is in Christianity.
The NFL and Christianity are rough!
Any human interaction can at times cause injuries. This is true in football but it is also true in our interactions in our marriage, friendships, co-workers, teammates, and between church members.
Learning how to take our ‘hits’ and get back up and finish the game is vital to Christianity’s success. Forgiving the unintentional offenses and confronting the intentional ‘tackles’ in love will help any church body to score goals and win the game.