Playing a Bigger Game

Jets fly over the stadium at the start of the NFL Super Bowl
Jets fly over the stadium at the start of the NFL Super Bowl (courtesy of naplesnews.com)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us – Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV)

I’m writing this post on the eve of Super Bowl XLVIII which will see the Seattle Seahawks face off against the Denver Broncos. Over the years the Super Bowl has become more than just a mere football game but has been transformed into one of the world’s biggest sporting events.  (I didn’t declare it was the biggest sporting event, because fans of the other sport that goes by the name of football throughout much of the world might declare the World Cup is bigger.)

The Super Bowl has transcended the sport of football and has truly become an extravaganza.  Viewing audiences routinely number in excess of 100 million.  For many the game is secondary and merely serves as a backdrop. The Super Bowl is one of those rare occasions when someone actually tunes in to watch commercials with advertisers paying more than $4 million for a 60 second spot.  Some tune in to catch the half-time performances regularly featuring the top musical artists of the day.  Parties are common place on Super Bowl Sunday and the day ranks second only to Thanksgiving in terms of food consumption in the United States. As Wikipedia notes, “the day of which the Super Bowl is played is considered by some as a de facto American holiday.”

Which such a wildly popular event to market and billions of dollars of revenue at stake, the NFL jealously guards the Super Bowl brand.  Retailers must pay to use the term “Super Bowl” in their advertising.  For example, it’s common practice for retailers to advertise big screen TVs prior to Super Bowl Sunday, but unless they’ve paid for the use of the name “Super Bowl” they will refer to it by some other euphemism such as the “Big Game.”

Winning the Super Bowls represents the crowning achievement for NFL teams.  NFL football is the highest level of competitive football played on the planet.  Winning the game on one of the world’s biggest stages demonstrates to all that players and coaches have reached the pinnacle of their professions.

God is calling many Christians to play in a bigger game.  He wants us to play in the Super Bowl and we’re stuck playing Pop Warner.  Let me first define what I mean by playing a bigger game.  It’s:

  1. Progressively growing in a loving and intimate relationship with him. (Mk. 12:30)
  2. Exhibiting the love of Christ in all of our relationships even with people we may find personally distasteful. (Mk 12:31)
  3. Seeking conformity to the image of Christ more than we seek our own ease, comfort and pleasure. (Rom. 8:29)
  4. Unlocking your God given purpose and living out that purpose with zeal and passion. (Eph. 2:10)
  5. Advancing God’s Kingdom and agenda through living a life of faith and trusting God to do through you what you cannot do for yourself. (Eph. 3:20)

By “playing in a bigger game” I do not mean glitz, glamor and hoopla.  The American addiction to hype has unfortunately infiltrated some corners of the church.  Witness the shameful reality TV offering, “Preachers of LA.” Playing a bigger game for God may lead to more personal fame and notoriety for you, but it may not.  You may not be afforded the opportunity to preach, sing or teach before thousands, but you can speak an encouraging word to a co-worker, neighbor or even a stranger.  You can offer a cup of water to a stranger in his name.  God’s redemptive plan started before the foundation of the world and should he delay his return, will continue after we’re gone from the scene.  None of us truly knows the impact of how what we do in the name of Christ will echo through the halls of eternity.  That thought ought to humble, convict and encourage us to pursue a life worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1, 1 Thes. 2:12).

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