Judging from the reactions to the Seattle Seahawks player's controversial remarks after their playoff win, we also don't like when someone appears self-centered and takes all the credit.
The Scripture says every perfect gift and good endowment comes from the Father, from God. We shouldn't act as though we have our gifts and abilities of ourselves. I think it's entirely appropriate to give God the credit and glory for the successes that he gives to us. All I'm concerned about is that we shouldn't have a sort of attitude of triumphalism in the face of our opponent who has been defeated.
What about when players bring up God in a game, but don't honor God off the field? The NFL has notorious cases of DUIs, assaults, and other incidents.
That is the old problem of hypocrisy, isn't it? Probably no one does more damage to the cause of Christ than the hypocrite, the person who espouses Christian faith and belief in God but doesn't live like it. That kind of hypocrisy does great harm, I think.
Where do sports, and little things like who wins a game or even who wins the Super Bowl, fit into God's big plan?
As I understand it, God's purpose for our lives is to conform us to the image of Christ increasingly in this life until he takes us home. So, developing those Christian virtues will be of overriding importance. Lower in priority will be, for example, the number of wins that you get in a season or the number of passes you catch or complete. Those are much less important than the development of a Christ-like character, which is God's overriding purpose for Christians.
CT posted an op-ed about whether Christians should reconsider football fandom, given how violent the sport is and what we're learning about brain injury. What do you think about that? Should we be celebrating it the way we do?
From a Christian point of view, our bodies are not our own. We're temples of the Holy Spirit. We're bought with a price. We're to glorify God in our body, and therefore I think to do things that deliberately court serious injury and perhaps permanent impairment is something that one ought to approach with a great deal of caution and reservation. It's for that reason we would not allow our son to play football. He went into basketball instead.
These rules that have increasingly developed to try to protect players from concussions and other serious injuries—I fully support the moves to try to make the sport safer than it has been in the past.
As football fans prepare for the big game, what thought would you want to leave them with?
I think the overriding thing I want to say is God's providence rules all of life, even down to the smallest details. Nothing happens without either God's direct will or at least his permission of that event. That includes every fumble, every catch, every run. All of these things are in the providence of God, and therefore, we should not think that these things are a matter of indifference. These are of importance to God as well even though they seem trivial.