Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Onward Christian Soldiers"1 (Lyrics)
1 Corinthians 3:22-23 – Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. (NASB)
Bill Shankly, a Scottish soccer manager, once said, "Football isn't about life or death — it's much more important than that." ("Soccer" is called "football" outside North America.) Bill Shankly coached the world-famous English soccer team, Liverpool. He was a hero of mine when I was growing up, and to many people, he was the best soccer coach who ever lived.
When I heard him say that about football, I agreed with him at the time. Soccer is a highly competitive sport which brings out a lot of wildness and passion amongst its supporters. American football has legions of zealous fans throughout the United States, but honestly, a soccer crowd in Britain, even for a minor league, has much more heart and zeal for their team. American football games are wonderfully loud, wildly exhilarating, and absolutely fantastic to attend, but British soccer games have all that and are also dangerous. I can remember being at soccer matches where fans ended up in pitched battles behind the stadium during the game! Sadly, sometimes, someone lost his life just for wearing team colours. That's why Bill Shankly said what he did. That's why I believed it at that time.
These days, I don't agree with Shankly's statement. Soccer is just a game and life is much more than that. Millions of people will tune in to the FIFA World Cup final game today, but in the end, no matter whether Argentina or Germany wins, it's still just a game. Being #1 in the world or supporting the team that wins the Cup won't bring anyone nearer or closer to God (even if a lot of prayers are said during the last two minutes of the game). The outcome won't affect our salvation — why? Because life and faith are worth infinitely more than a World Cup or even a Super Bowl. As Paul states in his letter, all things belong to us when we belong to Christ — football can't ever give us everything.
So, we may sit back and enjoy today's game, or we may do something else, but no matter how involved we are, there is only one thing that is greater than life or death, and that is faith in Jesus Christ, our everlasting Saviour.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, there are many distractions in our lives that can make us passionate, zealous, and fanatical. In the end, these things pass away and have no place in eternity. We may cheer our teams loudly and attend their games, but even the best coaches and most successful champions in the world can't bring us eternal salvation — but You do! In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.