"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matt 25:37-46 NIV)
This Sunday millions of us will gather around our televisions, tablets and technological devices to watch “The Big Game.” Some of us will don the jerseys of the NFL team we’re rooting for. I will dust off my #13 Kurt Warner Rams jersey – a replica of the one Kurt wore in Super Bowl XXXIV, when he raised the Lombardi Trophy and exclaimed “Thank you Jesus!” in front of several million football fans.
I love the distraction of sports and I am indebted to athletics. Sports provided a gateway into college and helped pay for my degree. Sports were the inspiration for my book and the foundation for many sermons. Sports was a place where ethnicity and income level had no bearing, and allowed me to make connections and build lifelong friendships with people that I may have otherwise missed. Sports also taught me that life is not always fair.
One of the major controversies of this year’s game was the apparent missed call by the referees that most likely would have given the victory to the New Orleans Saints, and sent them to the Super Bowl instead of the Rams. Despite the fact that there were missed calls on both teams that could have changed the outcome of the game, this one was the most obvious. Even the NFL has issued an apology to the Saints. Cries of unfairness are still ringing out from Saints fans, with some exclaiming this mistake as a “tragedy” or even an “atrocity.”
A blown call by a referee exemplifies what most of us know about life. It’s not fair. It’s not a tragedy and certainly not an atrocity. Tragedy is the wife or husband who dies and leaves their spouse with young children. Atrocity is the unborn child terminated for the sake of convenience. Tragedy is the self-aggrandizing impotent rhetoric between political adversaries while the poor and marginalized suffer. Atrocity is the trafficking of young women. Tragedy is the orphan or foster child who cannot be adopted because of bureaucracy. Atrocity is the child who starves to death, dies a refugee, or is ill because of unclean water or unmet medical care. Tragedy is the elderly widow who sits alone and ignored. Atrocity is racism and hate crimes. Tragedy is the people who sit in front of their television sets, post on social media and/or rest comfortably in their pews on Sunday mornings and do little or nothing to stop the atrocities and tragedies in the world.
There are many things that sports should not distract us from. I encourage you to get in the game of life! God bless.