Friday, January 22, 2016

Seahawks--Something Bigger Than Football

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The Seattle Seahawks won't play football this weekend---they're out, the season is over for them---they lost last Sunday---Carolina beat us.

Most of us already knew that.

Maybe next year.

However, as the game is replayed on video by sports analysts, coaches and players, there is another, a different image, a lingering image-- hopefully-- of how the season ended.

Thanks to King 5 TV for giving it to all of us who were not there in person.

Seattle's King 5 TV and WFMY News 2 published the picture above, defining it simply as a "Touching scene after the #SeavsCar game Sunday. Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers players praying together."

It is a "touching scene" to see this group of elite athletes---the best in the world in their sport---kneeling in prayer to God following the game.

It's a powerful image.

It's, hopefully, an enduring image.

And sometimes it's a controversial image, because these elite athletes are, after competing with each other, kneeling before Almighty God with one voice.

These men are not meditating or reflecting---they are praying to God. The God of the Bible.

To them there is something bigger, much bigger than football. And it's expressed in this public moment.

In reality, however, it is not a moment in front of tens of millions of people as is the case of the football game, the moment of kneeling and prayer is a reflection of their own personal life itself.

Generally the media tries to avoid showing these moments of prayer.

MRC reported on one incident last year where NBC refused to even show a few seconds of a prayer by players from both teams in a game between the Patriots and the Steelers.

The media constantly whines about the brutality and violence of football (while making millions of dollars off the ratings) and is always quick to report on crimes committed by athletes, but are normally vigilant about keeping player's who are praying off their screen.

Ironically the first known occasion where Christian players came together to pray on the field was 25 years ago after a hard fought Monday Night football game between the NY Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.

A fight broke out between the players at midfield with players from both teams going after each other.

Just when it looked like the fight would get completely out of control, Christians from both teams gathered at midfield, knelt down on their knees and prayed that God would restore order.

Like the Christian faith itself, from that small group of Christian believers surrounded by chaos, a movement began and today is practiced across all sports from the pros down to high school.

This expression is not merely an isolated act---it is a reflection of lives dedicated to Jesus Christ, lives that have submitted themselves to His Lordship. Lives that understand there is something bigger than their sport.

Behind each athlete who kneels publicly in the public arena, there is also a personal story.

In 2013, Russell Wilson and several other Seahawks made a video at the Seahawk practice facility in Renton. It's titled, "Making of a Champion."

Some of the faces on the Seahawks roster have changed, but the personal commitment of these individuals, I'm certain, remains firm.

Russell shares how as a teenager he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Although his parents regularly took him to church, he tells of a dream he had while at a football camp, a dream in which Jesus appeared to him, calling him to "learn more about the faith." Russell says that led to his personal commitment--"I got saved," he says.

I would encourage you to watch the video. It's about 12 minutes long, but the part about Wilson sharing his dream is at 7:45.

The skeptics often point out the human flaws and personal mistakes celebrities make, particularly in those who are public about their faith in Jesus Christ.

None are perfect except the Savior Himself. In the list of characters in the Bible, we only find One who was without sin. All of us make mistakes, we sin, that's why the One without sin came.

In a culture that burns and is out of control at most every level, we should pray for those who have international influence, yet are personally and publicly committed to serving God. And are unafraid of the consequences of kneeling in prayer to God in front of the world. And there are consequences.

Hopefully this leads those of us who do not play sports and do not have international influence to ask ourselves if we are willing to take a stand for God and righteousness among the few with which we do have influence in our family our neighborhood and our community?

And hopefully it leads pastors who in fact do have expanded influence, to overcome their own fear of consequences and take a stand for righteousness in their pulpits this Sunday, and every Sunday.

Isaiah assured the people of God, "When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him."

Alert: The enemy is coming in like a flood.

And God most often uses His people to do His work.

Be Fearless. Be Faithful.