The college I attended offered chapel services every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Usually, we'd sing a few worship songs, and then the main speaker would come up to offer a message. Yet, before the main speaker, before the one we were excited for, came the introduction. The introduction was often...
Chicagoland has gone wild over the recent success of the Cubs, as have other cities around the nation who support their beloved sports teams. The energy in the baseball stands is palpable these days, fans packing the stadiums to support the players that represent both their city and their pride. Strangers instantly become friends as hugs are exchanged upon runs, and family and friends gather, putting aside other plans, to hope for a victory.
We love sports. And there’s a reason for this that runs far deeper than the momentary happiness we feel when our team of choice wins. Our love for the game of baseball, and for sports in general, reflects spiritual realities about the God who created us, who he created us to be, and what he intends us to pursue and enjoy.
God created us to share in a common goal
All the believers were together and had everything in common. (Acts 2:44)
There is camaraderie in shared interests, so sports fans are very naturally brought together by the common love of the game. It’s not the least bit weird to high-five or hug a person you’ve never met before if it’s done in the context of a stadium…but try this in the grocery store or at the gym, and you’ll most likely earn the label “crazy.” The nature of sports, involving unity and teamwork for both players and fans, reflects how God created humans to share in a common goal.
In Acts 2, we are told that the believers “had everything in common,” which in this case is a reference to sharing their possessions, meeting in the temple, eating, and praising God together as a result of the gospel. This is the ultimate earthly picture of our God-given desire to share a common pursuit: the body of Christ dwelling together in unity for the glory of Christ. Beyond this, the common goal of worshiping Christ our King points to an eternal time when believers of every nation, tribe, and tongue will bow before him in humility (Revelation 7:9) and exalt his name forever.
While the God-given desire to share in this common goal can only be fully understood by believers, the love of the game that humans share is proof that God created us to unite in a sole purpose: the pursuit of bringing him glory. As John Piper so consistently teaches, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” The yearning we feel for inclusion and common purpose is not an end in itself but a means to see God and ourselves more clearly in the light of the gospel.
God created us to root for the win
Within the human heart, there is an innate desire for victory. We were created to be at peace with God, but with the advent of sin came the deep human desire for things to be made right again, restored and reconciled. Though a good majority of people would not admit it, the desire to be victors stems from the realization that something is terribly amiss, that we need to be made right again. Victory through sports unveils the depths of this desire in the momentary happiness we feel when our team wins, along with the emptiness that ensues when the victory inevitably passes.
For in the next moment, we realize that life is already moving forward, with the teams gearing up for another season of sports and the fans moving on to invest in the next pursuit. The win we experience satisfies for a time, but then it disappears like a vapor.
We yearn for a victory that is satisfying in a final and conclusive sense, and the Bible tells us that Christ is the victory we need:
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. (Mark 13:26-27)
For those people whose lives are wrapped up in Christ — who have found their joy and satisfaction in his life, death, and resurrection — one day, the final victory will be theirs, as Christ gathers them from all places and destroys sin and death and temporary pleasures forever. The joy we then experience will be eternally lasting, as we rest in Christ’s victorious reign.
God created us to celebrate together
Lastly, the happiness we feel that is dependent on the outcome of the game will not compare to the everlasting joy we experience that is independent of circumstances and found solely in Christ. God created human beings to celebrate together in the joy of their salvation, which can only be experienced through a living relationship with the Son of God.
The greatest celebration will take place at the marriage supper of the Lamb:
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:6-8)
For those who trust in Jesus, their joy will be made complete in eternity. Earthly glimpses of this everlasting joy will have pointed to our heavenly celebration all along, where God will be glorified forever by his children, as they display fully the righteousness of their Lord and Savior.
Sports fan, your love of the game points to something greater. The next time your team wins, shout, celebrate, and high-five a stranger, with thankfulness in your heart to God that an even better victory awaits you through the gospel.