Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Thursday, January 29, 2015
According to a recent survey, millions of Americans believe that God cares who wins this Sunday's Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. Is this so? (For more on the survey, read my wife's latest blog, Does God care who wins the Super Deflata-Bowl?).
Since God knows the future (cf. Isaiah 46:9-10), he knows the outcome of the game. Does this mean that he has determined it? Knowing and choosing are not always the same. God is not bound by time—he sees tomorrow as you and I see today. (Tweet this) As C. S. Lewis notes, if we view time as a line on a page, God is the page.
If I watched you read this essay, that wouldn't mean I made you do so. The fact that God can "see" today what you eat for lunch tomorrow doesn't mean that he has chosen that meal for you. Since he is sovereign, he must permit all that happens (cf. Matthew 10:29). But since he gave humans free will and chooses to honor our freedom, his permissive will is not always his perfect will (cf. 2 Peter 3:9).
However, there are times when God does choose a specific future. He predicted the birthplace of Jesus centuries before Christmas (Micah 5:2). He knew beforehand how Pharaoh would respond to Moses (cf. Exodus 3:19). Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him (Matthew 26:34), and repeatedly forecast his crucifixion (cf. Matthew 16:21).
God is a King, and chooses that which advances his Kingdom. By what scenario could his Kingdom purpose be served through the outcome of the Super Bowl?
Perhaps a team's win would enable its players or coaches to witness for Christ more effectively. However, I can't see why Super Bowl participants couldn't glorify God whether they win or lose—they already have one of the most visible platforms in the Western world.
Conceivably, a win would show that God answers prayer. But what about the intercessors whose team loses? Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is a very devout believer whose Twitter feed is filled with biblical quotations. However, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (whose team lost to the Seahawks) is also a very strong Christian. Which believer should God have favored?
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn't sure God cares who wins: "Look at the attention I get: It's because I throw a football. But that's what society values. That's not what God values. He didn't invent the game. We did. I have some hand-eye coordination, and I can throw the ball. I don't think that matters to God." Rodgers agrees: "I don't think God cares a whole lot about the outcome. He cares about the people involved, but I don't think he's a big football fan."
So it seems to me that God doesn't care who wins Sunday's game. But he does care if we honor him as we watch the game and discuss it later (slander is forbidden by Scripture; see Proverbs 10:18; Matthew 12:36). He does care if we are as committed to excellence in our calling as the players and coaches are in theirs (Colossians 3:23). He does care if we care more about souls than fans care about the score.
The next person you meet will matter to God long after Sunday's game is over. Let's win the Super Bowl of the soul. (Tweet this)
Publication date: January 29, 2015
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