Thursday, November 03, 2016

World Series 2016 - The glory and danger of sports

For all the non-Cleveland Indian fans, today is a day of thrilling joy. A 108 year "curse" is lifted.

I find it fascinating that this century old condition has been called "a curse." The Bible refers often to curses and blessings. To be blessed is to find joy, contentment, and satisfaction. To be cursed is to be under judgment, discontent, and unsatisfied.

Sports have this uncanny ability to produce such sensations of blessing or curse. If I play well on the basketball court, I walk a little taller the rest of the day. If I shoot 0-10, I wallow. Some would say, "That's just sports." But I wonder if we realize that something more could be in play.

Many of us look for sports to give us something that will never last. Let's call this, "The Ultimate Blessing." Even if your team has a perfect season (oh the joy) or wins the World Series (yippee), they will lose again in the future. Even the greatest athletes (cough, cough, Tiger Woods) can crash.

If we've put our greatest hopes in sports or our sports' teams, we will never taste a blessing that can never be taken away. The curse will come back. The sense of dissatisfaction and judgment cannot be totally averted.

The Bible uses the language of idolatry to address this condition. An idol is a created thing that cannot deliver on the ultimate blessing. Whether it's sports, money, sex, or power, such things can only provide momentary joy. Now we all know that, and yet, we all seem to be chained to our idol factories, expecting them to manufacture that ultimate blessing eventually. Or some of us have learned to hedge our bets, so we cheer for a team, play the game ourselves, work hard, save money, buy toys, pursue romance, and attempt great things...hopefully there's enough success from enough of these created things that we'll have enough joy to make it through enough days with enough satisfaction.

This "works" for many people. They can go a very long time happy enough with their created things (idols). But there are those flashes of insight when we're honest enough to say, "I'm in bondage to these created things." I'm not free, happy, or fully satisfied. And even when we have it all, joy is still elusive. This is why so many stars in People Magazine see psychiatrists, do drugs, invite scandal, and do all manner of public craziness to stay in the limelight. You can have "it all" and fall short.

Christianity says "ultimate blessing" is possible. Great, unending, never-stopping, fully-satisfying joy is available...God Himself. The ultimate goal for humanity is to be blessed in (with/by) God. The ultimate danger is to be cursed by God.

Jesus Christ came to expose all idols as mere created things that can never deliver and only enslave. But He could really save. For starters, he dies for our sins, the treachery of idolatry, the curse we deserve for loving things other than God. But this salvation includes reconciliation with God. We are brought into God's family--the perfect Being becomes our Father and Friend. We have an unending intimacy with the person who has unending joy.

The great curse of sin falls on Jesus so we can have the great blessing of God with us.

So today, Cubs' fans, enjoy the glimpse of glory. But remember it's only a glimpse of glory...the real thing is God himself. There is a victory that can never end, a curse that can never come back, and a God who will never turn his back.

No comments: