“For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.”
I love sports. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an avid Chicago Cubs fan. Even though they are once again, not very good, I am a faithful fan of the Chicago Bears football fan. I root for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in College football. As a young kid I loved playing baseball and football. I still play golf. One of my favorite things when my boys were little was to go to their soccer, or baseball or basketball games. Now it’s the grandkids. I love sports.
However, I read something the other day, that reminded me that for some people sports is more than just entertainment. I was reading an article online in which someone was objecting to American Football players using the game to make political points. The author objected to sports becoming a part of the political divide in America. The author wrote, “Leave sports alone to do what it does best – bring people together and heal our divisions.” Really? I thought. That’s what sports does best? That’s not my experience. As a kid we had knockdown, drag out fights with friends over who was best – the Cubs or the White Sox. In the one professional soccer game I attended here in Frankfurt – they keep the most rabid fans for the opposing teams in fenced off parts of the stadiums on opposite sides of the field. I think this might be part of making sure they don’t get violent with each other. In America, on Super Bowl Sunday, incidents of physical abuse in the home sky rocket. Sports is not in the business of bringing people together. Sports is in the business of entertaining through competition and by creating rivalries among different fans.
Strange thing - when I am caring for a couple in a struggling marriage I don’t tell them they should sit down and watch more sports together. No I point them to the One whose heart is all about reconciliation… the One who came to this world to break down dividing walls and heal divisions. I point them… I would point you to Jesus Christ. Listen to what Paul wrote about Jesus. “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.”
St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men.” As the one who is both God and man in one person Jesus is the perfect bridge between God and man… and between us and one another. He is so different from American football players who win victories by violently bashing their bodies against each other. No Jesus ends our hostility toward God and one another – but allowing God’s wrath over sin and our hostility towards each other to be directed towards Him. That’s happened on the cross. “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He cried out as God punished Him there. “Father forgive them,” He prayed for all of us – as every bit of racism, hatred, envy, and spite that we harbor towards each other was on that cross directed at Him. When the stone was rolled away on Easter morning and the angels cried out “He is Risen!” - in that moment the dividing walls of hostility that divide us from God and each other were all torn down.
Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian who suffered greatly in a Nazi concentration camp, went around after the war telling the world about how God took care of her even at that worst moment of her life. After speaking one night a man came up to speak to her. She immediately recognized him as one of the guards from the concentration camp. She felt only loathing and anger. But then the man reached out his hand to ask her to forgive him. At first she could not bring herself to do it. She hated him. But then, she wrote, she turned to Jesus in prayer. “Help me Lord. Change my heart to love and forgive this man as You have.” And Jesus answered. And with His help, she reached out to accept that man’s hand and forgive him in her heart.
So go ahead and enjoy sports. But when it comes to relationships, let Jesus do what He does best – bring us together and heal our divisions. Amen.