He's Still Working On Me

Examine the following quotes:

"This is the map God made for me to be."
"God healed me."
"You're going to see a miracle."

Pretty inspiring, huh? It's always great for God-fearing people to put their faith and trust in Him. And it's even better when they let the whole world know it.

Or is it?

I hate it when they stuff an extra week between the NFL Conference Championships and the Super Bowl. It gives the media way too much time on their hands, and the hype runs wild. If you're at all interested in sports, then you've probably heard the biggest question surrounding this year's Super Bowl: "Will he or won't he play?" Wide receiver Terrell Owens of the Philadelphia Eagles severely injured his ankle a month ago in a game against the Dallas Cowboys. While his doctor said he would be out for the season, Owens contended that he would play in the championship game. At the Super Bowl media day on Tuesday, he dropped those quotes listed above. Apparently God wants T.O. to play in the Super Bowl, and play well.

Now obviously I'm not questioning the power of God to heal someone who was hurt in the way that Owens was. And I even understand that Terrell wants to make sure that God gets the credit for healing him; I respect him for that. But when you listen to what he says and the way he says it, it's almost as if Owens believes that his injury is a top thing on God's to-do list. It's tough to stomach those thoughts when, during the same time period that T.O. was injured, there was a tsunami that killed almost 200,000 people. Now say I'm not a Christian and I try to synthesize these two incidents. Does that mean that God cares more about a football player's injury than welfare of millions of people in South Asia?

There's always been for me an uncomfortable relationship between athletic competitions and Christianity. Most of the problem is with us followers of Jesus who are spectators. Many Christians like to point out when a successful athlete is also one of us. I've never understood that. Why do we need celebrities to legitimize our faith? You know that if T.O. plays in the Super Bowl and does well, Christians all over the country will be talking about what God did on that football field. It's all rather absurd. We preach against idolizing athletes, but even we'll do it if it makes us feel better about our chosen faith.

Does God care who triumphs in a game of Monopoly? Or does God answer the prayers for victory of participants in the World Series of Poker? Will the kingdom of God be better off if Owens puts up 150 yards and two touchdowns? And what if Owens plays a horrible game on Sunday? Was God absent? Or was he incapable of healing him? Lots to think about, but let's just remember what it is: a game. There are more important things in this world for God to worry about.

So if you know which team God wants me to root for, please let me know.