Well the NFL Season is back in full swing. My Buffalo Bills were victorious on the weekend but, unfortunately, had a ton of injuries. My hope is that some of those players will be back for Sunday’s game against Miami but who knows? I still mourn over the loss of the CFL season here in Canada and am very concerned about what the league is going to look like in the future. As with so many things during this time of pandemic, we will just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
In watching football, I was most struck by the Monday Night game between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a hard fought contest with lots of excitement. It also marked the return of Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from serious elbow surgery. He did great. This game got my attention, not because of the football but the interaction of the players, during the game and after. Let me explain.
Ben Roethlisberger has really turned his life around for Jesus Christ. His faith is now central to his life and he testified that, afterwards, in the postgame interviews. I watched him during the game as their starting right offensive tackle was injured. He went over, leaned over and talked with him. It looked to me like he prayed with him and tried to bring him comfort. I was very impressed. He interacted with his teammates during the game, encouraging them and giving them confidence and assurance. To me, he modelled Jesus. The Apostle Paul says, in Romans 12:9 (NLT), “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them…” To me, that was what Big Ben was doing. He demonstrated a genuine love and concern for his teammates.
Along with this, after the game, many players gathered ,from both teams, to kneel and pray together. There was a large group from Pittsburgh. The camera caught it and focused on it for a few seconds. They were all united, hand in hand, as they prayed. It was a real testimony for Jesus and His Lordship. Football is important but He is number one. It is unity in Christ. They were lifting up the name of Jesus. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)).
And the Steelers are living out the reality of how day-to-day living can impact others for Jesus Christ. Mike Tomlin, the coach of Pittsburgh, who boldly wears a cross around his neck for all to see, is a product of Tony Dungy and his discipleship lifestyle. Tony, a wonderful Christian coach and commentator, impacted coach Tomlin as he served with him as an assistant. And now Tomlin impacts his players and coaches as he lives his faith. As Paul says to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to instruct others" (2 Timothy 2 (NIV)). Theses men display a true picture of discipleship.
I could go on, but will end today’s reflection here. To me, football is so much more than a game. It is a playing field where men and women get to display the glorious grace of God and how it has transformed their lives. Thank you, Steelers, for showing that grace last Monday and encouraging me. I hope this short reflection has encouraged you as you live life on your “playing field.”
Have a great day my friends and keep in the love of Jesus – Pastor Ralph