I’ve said this before (maybe not in as many words), but I believe God created North American football (Canadian or American) to provide metaphors for the walk with Him.
I’ve written about the tale of “Wrong Way” Riegels and redemption at the Rose Bowl, and the concept of “Run to Daylight” when witnessing Jesus to non-believers. In one of my sermons, I talked about Vince Lombardi and his annual “back to basics” welcoming message, and I’ve referred to the Nick Buoniconti Factor — where people see the works of God all around them and when someone says, “It’s God”, they say, “No … no … that’s not it.”
I can’t think of another sport that parallels the Great Walk the way football does. Not baseball. Baseball is a team game played by individuals. At any given moment, it’s individuals who are required to do their job right: make the right pitch, catch the ball, throw it accurately, put down the tag, hit the ball, beat the throw. Nine players on the field, but at any given time, an individual has to do the job.
But football is a different animal. That was brought home the other day when I watched a documentary about the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
I had been a Dolphins fan from the get-go: I was obsessed with dolphins since fifth grade, so when I learned the new football team in Miami would be called the “Dolphins”, I was an instant fan. That fandom reached fever pitch when the ’72 Dolphins went undefeated and untied and won the Super Bowl.
Mind you, with my football knowledge being a mile wide and a foot deep, I mainly knew the Big Names on the team, like Jim Kiick, Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris, so something Csonka said in an interview for the documentary struck me.
“My favorite five seconds,” he said, “was being in the huddle, and looking across at [the guys on the offensive line], and they’re all saying, ‘Follow me. Follow me. Stick your helmet up my — and follow me, and we’ll get it there.”
And that was an eye-opener. Kiick and Csonka got the publicity, the fame, the statistics as the Guys Carrying The Football, but the offensive linemen, whose names I had to look up because I only vaguely knew about them, had to do their jobs so that Kiick and Csonka could do theirs. They were proud of the job they had to do, and Kiick and Csonka and the other Big Names knew they were safe and protected as they did those jobs.
What does that have to do with the walk with Christ?
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.1 Corinthians 12:1-12
What position do you play? What gifts has the Holy Spirit given to you? What does “get it there” look like as we witness Jesus to others and how do we give others the comfort and protection — the blocking — to help them in their ministry?
You may not know the answer to that yet, but seeking the kingdom of God involves finding out from the Spirit what those gifts are and then, when you’ve learned, rejoicing that He has entrusted us use them to promote Jesus to the world. When we play our position and join with others as they play theirs, we all succeed in “getting it there”.