“I believe the Super Bowl and the Bible have very little in common. One thing they share, though, is an ability to make us ask the question: What’s the proper use of strength?” ~Matthew L. Skinner
When I was growing up the Super Bowl was one of my favorite events of the year. Dad and I would nourish ourselves for the big game with our special combination of cheese, pickles and popcorn. As Texas natives, we were Cowboy fans during the Roger Staubach era and would cheer ourselves hoarse by game’s end. It was fun. I felt bonded to Dad and to something bigger than myself.
This week’s Super Bowl Hype was irritating me. Noticing the irritation, I began to listen to what was driving the irritation. Then a question emerged: “Is the Super Bowl representative of the little gods that dominate our world today: the gods of consumerism, ego, celebrity and violence?”
The NFL has long underplayed the emotional and physical damage caused by head injuries. The DeflateGate controversy echoes the win-at-all-cost attitude that winks at cheating to get what one wants. Honor among athletes and the joy of the game has shifted into bullying and domination. So another question emerged: “Is the ethos of the Super Bowl influencing culture. . .or is culture influencing the Super Bowl?” That question will require further reflection, yet what I do know is that the pervasive “spirit of domination” in our world is alarming.
The Center for Disease Control reports that in high schools 20% of students report being bullied on school property and 16% report being bullied electronically. That’s a sad stat, especially since the teenage years are formative for self-esteem . Even more alarming is a report from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence which states that 42% of children between the ages of 1-17 have been victims of physical assault.
Juxtaposing the Super Bowl messaging with the message from this Sunday’sscripture from Mark 1:21-28 gives reason for real cheering. If the Super Bowl is strength gone amuck, then what we see in Jesus is strength centered in love. The character of Jesus is a revealing study of strength and power. The strength of Jesus is without domination. And the power of Jesus is authority without abuse.
If you love the Super Bowl, I hope you enjoy the game to the fullest. I also invite you to do your own reflections on the questions I pose, to create your own questions, form your own opinions, and let me know what you think at RevDwayne@MCCDC.com.
This year, I’m choosing to fast the Super Bowl and use the time to attend our MCC Unid@s service at 6pm. After the service, while the game continues, I plan to pray about the rampant consumerism and violence in our world. If you choose to fast watching the Super Bowl, I would love to hear from you. Either way, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday at 9am, 11am & 6pm.