How to Focus on God this Football Season is a blog post by contributing author Claire Wiggins.
I live in the deep south. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that there is one topic of primacy in most southerners’ minds and mouths from August to January. That topic is, of course, football.
And it’s a good one. Whether it’s college, NFL, or high school, football is exciting, and connects people in a way that few other sports or types of entertainment can.
But does it deserve top priority in not just our minds and mouths, but ultimately our hearts, for almost half of every year? I propose five “keys to the game” for keeping God Almighty, the Creator and Sustainer of all our favorite athletes and football itself, your focus this Fall.
Key #1: Mind your scrolling.
You’ve heard it before: what we look at and listen to is ultimately what we become. When you get up in the morning and there’s a strong pull to check message boards or twitter for updates or this weekend’s picks, check your heart. Have you even spoken to God today? Have you thanked him for anything? Have you spent any time with him? Make him your priority.
Key #2: Watch your tongue.
Our words reveal a lot about us. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45) is a frightening statement. If we are constantly talking about football (or anything else), that’s what our hearts are full of. For some of us, football is so ingrained in us that it’s all we can talk about for months. But what of the kingdom? What of God’s goodness? What of serving and loving others with our words? We must practice setting our hearts on the Lord that we may speak words that bring him glory, not just our team.
Key #3: Guard your Sundays.
In our culture, Sunday has become a throw-away day, a left-over from whatever Saturday held dear. In this context, I’m talking about weekends away from home to see football games (or staying up late watching them on TV). We figure church, fellowship with believers, and intentional rest and time with the Lord can bow to the big game. It must be the other way around. Get back to your hometown late in the night. Try attending church in the game town. Sunday morning is the most important time in a Christian’s week. Fight for it.
Key #4: Make it about the people you’re with.
Watching football provides an incredible opportunity for community. The friends and family in the living room or in the stands with you should be what you most value, not the score at the end of the game. This is especially true for friends who are fans of a different team. In everything he did, Jesus made people his priority – not the event, the feast, or even winning and having the last word.
Key #5: Invite God.
Our tendency is to leave God out of football and other things we enjoy. He has his areas and we have ours. The reality is that there is no separation between sacred and secular. It’s all sacred because it’s all his. He gets your Friday night and Saturday afternoon. He’s in the stands with you. He’s on the field. Practice being conscious of God’s presence in your enjoyment of this sport. He created the fun of it, and we would be wise to turn our cheers into praise for not only our team, but for him.
Ultimately, football games are just that – games. They are temporal pleasures in an eternal story. Love God more than football this season.
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