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Does God picks sides in sports and politics…and marriage?

The reason most people tune into the NFL playoffs is to watch large men fight over a small ball. But in 2015 there was also another battle going on, of interest even to those who can’t tell a pass from a pick. After their January 18 semifinal game that year, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a debate of sorts about whether God chooses sides in sporting contests.

Though they were down most of the game, Seattle won by outscoring Green Bay 21-3 over the final six minutes. Afterward an ecstatic Russell Wilson credited God for his team’s remarkable comeback: “That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special.” Wilson’s statement seemed to imply that God wanted Seattle to win – that He was on Seattle’s side.

As might be expected, losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a different perspective: “I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome.”

So does God pick sides in football games?

Is God on our side?

A few thousand years back a similar sort of question was asked right before a different sort of contest. Israel was about to attack Jericho when Joshua saw a man with drawn sword standing in front of him.

Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

Neither? It’s a curious answer – why wouldn’t the commander of God’s army side with God’s people?

Because that would be getting things backward. Yes, there are two sides, but the dividing line isn’t drawn where we think it is – it isn’t a matter of us versus them. No, it’s all about God. Instead of expecting God to back our team we should start trying to be a part of His.

Aaron Rodgers had it right: God isn’t for or against any football team. He doesn’t pick sides; He is the dividing line. The question we’re faced with is only, are we for or against Him?

What does that look like?

That’s the real question, and one we’re to consider any time we’re called to battle.

In the political arena, many a Christian candidate has lost his way by asking God to support their campaign rather than ensuring their campaign sides with God. It’s only when getting elected becomes something secondary that siding with God can become our first priority.

In marriage, we’re not called to battle, but battles do come, and it gets that much the worse if one spouse, or both, thinks that God is on their side. No, God isn’t going to side with your stubbornness. He doesn’t think you’re being principled; He knows you’re just self-centered. So stop thinking of yourself, and start thinking about Him and what it looks like to play for his team in your marriage. Then you’ll forget about being right, and worry about being biblical: being forgiving, submissive and self-sacrificial.

There are also battles in basketball, baseball and every other sport too. When our kids are playing for their Christian school’s team they need to understand that God has a team out there on the floor, and there might well be a team opposing Him too, but that division won’t be shown via uniform colors. Players who want to side with God will make his priorities their own. So they can set their sights on scoring 20 and winning the championship game but that can’t be their ultimate goal. What’ll be more important is trying to do all that God’s way: playing with self-control, hearing the coach, respecting opponents and, despite the mathematical difficulties, giving 110%.

Conclusion

So God wasn’t siding with the Seahawks. That’s getting it backward.

We are called to be on His team and called to play, and to campaign, and to love, and to battle His way. Let’s see things rightly and live our lives seeking His way.

This originally appeared in the March 2015 issue under the title “On whose side? Battling Christians should pick the right team”


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