I saw a strange thing on Social Media yesterday. My feed blew up with comments and tweets railing against the Super Bowl. It seems that a number of well meaning pastors and Christians were using the internet as their street corner bullhorn for railing against a pigskin worshipping Nineveh.
The truth is, the chorus is right. Football in America is both false god and false church. But this reaction is incredibly unhelpful, for three reasons:
It runs counter to the missional message of Incarnation.
Mission theology is rooted in the uniquely Christian message of incarnation. Our gospel is rooted in story of God becoming man, and living among us. Jesus’ life and teachings take place in, and uses the metaphors of his culture. He does object lessons at weddings, teaches about holidays like the Sabbath and uses recognizable agricultural metaphors. Incarnation says that God talks to us on our level, about our world. The Super Bowl should be an opportunity to do this.
It insults the crowds.
“Football is a false god”. “Advertisements perpetuate sexist and damaging stereotypes.” “The false connection of sports-based tribalism is shallow and unhealthy”. These things may all be true. But helping people realize this requires a level of maturity and theological nuance that cannot be taught in 140 characters. So, instead of sharing the gospel, we just insult people for liking what they think is normal. Starting with an insult means ending a conversation.
It trivializes the other sins of our culture.
I understand the doctrine of grace and that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. But when we decide to attack cultural sins, we need to be strategic. If you are trying to bring people alongside you in God’s mission, why start with the Super Bowl? Why not take on the orphan issue or the AIDs epidemic or our ongoing 21st century Jim Crow urban life? Let’s save our megaphones for screaming about the love of God and the atrocities that make life hell for so many.
Churches should be full of people abandoning their false gods and choosing to worship Jesus. Let’s tell them that. But let’s use incarnational means, graceful words and meaningful missions to teach about it.