Saturday, February 02, 2013

Super Sunday

What? You have never watched the super bowl? It's the super bowl. Who doesn't watch it?

That would be the inevitably question were more people aware of my current status as a super bowl virgin. Am I just anti-social or contrary? Actually I'm not always very good at sharing these thoughts with people face to face. I even have trouble when its with otherwise like-minded folk because I don't want to trample on their conscience.

So, I guess it's in that spirit of caution and temperance that I would like to talk about it now.

Let just clear the air. These are NOT the reasons I don't watch the SB:

• It's not my sport. — Actually, I grew up playing backyard football and rooting for my 49ers. My brother and I were an arrogant pair that would take on the entire neighborhood with run patterns of our own making. I was the Jerry Rice to his Joe Montana.
• It's not your team — Well, actually, this year it is. If there was ever a year for me to break down and watch, it's when my beloved San Francisco team is in the big game. Even in other years, you will still find me catching up on Monday to see how it all went.
• I think I'm better than everyone else — No... Just no. Hence my apprehension regarding this topic lest I be misinterpreted. This is a very typical assumption, so there are only a few people I've shared this with. Most of them are fellow believers who I suspect still didn't fully understand my position.

I'm sure there are more false reasons to debunk, but let's get to the point.

First and foremost, it all starts with the Christian view of the sabbath. That's reason number 1. Be assured that I am the first to say that the church in history has often misapplied the sabbath by going to extremes in order to abstain from anything deemed to indulgent. But you don't have to be a prude or a party pooper in order to see the elephant in the room when it comes to God's Will and the super bowl. In time past, it may have been considered a pretty wholesome form of entertainment that really spoke of family values — I don't know. And it may have been more difficult for many to see the issue with it. But today, it's not so hard. Anyone being honest with themselves will have to admit that one of the biggest media events of the year has become a cross-section of our cultural norms. From the various cults of personality that are formed on the field and the idolatrous hype built over the two-week run-up, to the decadent half-time shows and attention to overpriced advertizing, it really is a microcosm of all that is valued by the world.

Now, about the sabbath. We don't need to start getting into petty arguments over what's allowed or not allowed, as if some sort of Sunday bondage is required of us. Rather, all we have to do is reduce the fourth commandment to its most basic element: holiness.

Holiness. Set-apartness. Separation. Something preserved. Something special. Fact: Something must be different about the sabbath. There are so many ways of putting this. Let's start with this: How you typically spend the sabbath day should reflect on what you believe about heaven. It is, after all, the ultimate rest to which we look and the hope we express in our sabbath rest.

And more than that, the sabbath helps define who we are as those set apart by God as His special possession. What else can we assume but that there is a correlation between a holy day and a holy "called out" people. The church, according to its very definition is a people called out of the world, just as Abraham was called out of pagan Ur. 1 Peter 2:9 makes this tie-in very well: "...a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession." In other words, there is no difference between what Israel enjoyed as the Old Testament church and today's "holy nation" e.i., you and I.

Let's reconcile this now. Practically none of the redeeming elements of today's culture are present during the great cultural showcase that is the super bowl. And yet, there it is, being celebrated every year smack dab in the middle of the DAY that defines a Christian's holy calling and status. How could we possibly turn our attention to something so unholy (and I mean that in the most technical sense).

Mind you, I've come to these conclusions entirely apart from any Puritan idea of self-denial on the sabbath. It has nothing to do with self-denial at all. The sabbath isn't about that. On the contrary, we live in the light of God's full revelation. We rejoice, since the Bridegroom has made himself fully known to us -- we eagerly anticipate the wedding feast. All of that ought to be bound up and inextricably linked to our sabbath celebration.

Please consider, dear believer, whether you are pining after another lover. Is this really something that you MUST do on this day or are you ready to declare the super bowl holy? To do so clearly raises some serious questions about what the world gets to see when they look into the church.

Will their eyes be lifted to God and his glorious work or will they simply see a reflection of themselves?

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