It was hard to miss the number of Philadelphia Eagles football players who expressed their unabashed love for Jesus.
For example, Carson Wentz formed the AO1 logo. It means playing to an Audience of One. He plays to please Jesus alone. His life revolves around advancing the kingdom of God. Even when his knee injury ended his season, he still gave thanks to Jesus---trusting that he was sovereignly in control over this mishap.
Then there’s Wentz’s replacement on the field: Nick Foles. When Wentz went down, few thought the Eagles could continue the success of their season. But Foles became Wentz part 2. He advanced the Eagles to the Super Bowl, where he was named its MVP. Did I mention that Foles said before the game that he’s in seminary, taking classes to become a youth pastor after football? All he wants to do is glorify Jesus with his life.
There’s also tight end Zach Ertz. He caught the game-winning touchdown. After the game, he proclaimed that his life’s desire is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
And don’t forget head coach Doug Pederson. When interviewed right after the game about his team’s remarkable win, without stammering, pausing, or stuttering, he gave all praise and glory to Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior.
These examples don’t include numbers of other Eagles players who openly declared their Christian faith. One was even baptized in a hotel pool the night before the Eagles played the Carolina Panthers on a Thursday night nationally televised game!
It’s hard not to ask the question: Did Jesus help the Eagles bring home their first Super Bowl win ever?
Yet on the other side, one must wonder if the Almighty is even concerned with any game---much less one as violent and hard-hitting as football. With all the suffering, disease, and tribulations in the world, why would God care one bit about a football game---no matter how much it’s cloaked in American glamor and glitz?
But Jesus said that the Father is concerned when a sparrow falls to the ground. He knows the number of hairs on people’s heads. If he is sovereign over everything. Would that include a football game---especially one as important as this one?
What do I think? I remember an interview I read years ago with Bobby Richardson, the All-Star second baseman for the New York Yankees. He was asked whether his Christian faith helped the Yankees win baseball games.
Richardson paused for a moment. Then he said that he was convinced that his Christian faith made him a better man, father, and husband. Then he paused again and suggested that if his Christian faith made him a better man, father, and husband, then surely it made him a better baseball player. And if he was a better baseball player, then surely his faith helped him perform well in high pressure situations.
Maybe that’s what happened with the Eagles. So many players became better husbands, fathers, and people through their relationship with Jesus. Their character improved. Their work ethic increased. Their ability to work together as a team grew. Their love for one another expanded. All these things then enabled them to play better together as a team, overcoming adversity, even when they lost their star quarterback, Carson Wentz.
Who knows? One day in heaven God will show us---that is, if he cares about football.
Until then, rejoice in the victory, you Eagles fans! It’s quite an accomplishment.
And maybe the rest of us should pray for a mass revival for Jesus that spreads to our favorite NFL team! It couldn’t hurt.
And it could very well be the catalyst that cultivates the needed character, a strong work ethic, and a team unity that contributes to winning Super Bowl Liii.