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By Pastor Jim Neal
Frist Southern Baptist Church, Shafter 

Pastor's Corner - Feb. 6, 2020

For us, there’s a real Super Bowl


Last updated 2/9/2020 at 6:40pm | View PDF

Vince Lombardi, the coach of the winning team of the first two Super Bowls, once said, “Football is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness and respect for authority is the price that each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”

This game has grown to proportion once reserved for Christmas, Easter, Memorial or Labor Day. At first it was just a championship game, then it became Super Bowl Sunday, and now 54 Super Bowls later, it is a “cash cow” for advertising moguls and U.S. corporations. It is the crescendo of what has become America’s game-- pro football -- with well over 70% of all television sets in America tuned in -- if not for the game, at least for the half-time show, which has also grown to gigantic proportions.

Whether you like football or sports in general, Lombardi’s statement brings some relative truth to the subject. Football and athletics in general do instill many fine qualities into young athletes as they grow and mature. Unfortunately, with the onslaught of commercialism, pressure to win and fanaticism in many ways it has left the arena of instilling the attributes Coach Lombardi espoused and has been replaced by greed and the mantra “win at all costs.” We as a community do not do a lot to thwart those thoughts as we build pedestals for our favorite universities, players and teams, from which many of them fallen and fallen hard.

Let’s do a reality check. All of us are in a game and it is for real, it is the game called life. It has many more turns, twists and detours than any make-believe athletic event and the results are far more personal and authentic. The Apostle Paul uses athletic metaphors as he explains the Christian walk and life. In I Corinthians 9:24,25, he exhorts “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So, run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we are imperishable.”

At the conclusion of his life he writes another fantastic athletic example and one worth emulating when he wrote: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:7, 8. Now, that is worth much more than a Super Bowl trophy, right?

Fight the fight, stay the course and for goodness sake remain focused on what is ultimately the most important.

Jim Neal is pastor of Fist Southern Baptist Church in Shafter.


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