Super Bowl LVI is here. Sunday will see the Cincinnati Bengals square off against the hometown Los Angeles Rams in the annual contest turned commercial spectacle. Thousands will tune in just to see this year’s slate of commercials or to catch their favorite artist during halftime.
But for the Christian, the Super Bowl is also an opportunity to worship the Lord by enjoying his gifts in a way that honors him. In the spirit of Joe Carter’s 9 Things You Should Know series, here are nine pieces of information to help keep the big game in perspective as you enjoy the weekend’s festivities.
1. The City
Action Point: When the blimp gives a citywide shot after a commercial, pray for the people of Los Angeles. Pray God would use local churches to spread the gospel. Pray that those who claim to know Christ would be obedient to his Word. Pray God would give pastors wisdom on how to faithfully engage the culture around them.
2. The Week
Over 1 million visitors will descend on the city this week, bringing with them an estimated 100 to 300 million dollars to spend. While beneficial for local restaurants and shops, the influx of people and money into a Super Bowl host city is often believed to be accompanied by a spike in human trafficking—the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world.
The Super Bowl and other large sporting events can be attraction events for traffickers. A record number of offenders were arrested during the runup to last year’s game. Though the prevalence of trafficking at the Super Bowl is debatable, the issue itself warrants our prayer and concern.
Action Point: When you watch analysts and reporters on location, pray for victims of the sex-slave industry. Pray for their safety and escape. To learn more about the realities of human trafficking and how you can help, go to enditmovement.com.
3. The Breakfast
Since 1988, Athletes in Action has hosted an NFL-sanctioned breakfast on Saturday morning of Super Bowl weekend.
The breakfast is a platform to celebrate the Bart Starr Award, given annually to a player who exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community. This year’s honoree is quarterback Russell Wilson.
Action Point: Pray for Russell Wilson, and all previous award winners, who will face more temptation to do wrong after being honored for doing good. Pray for those attending the banquet, that they would submit to Jesus as Lord.
4. The Teams
The Bengals make their long-anticipated return to the Super Bowl stage on Sunday; this will be the second Super Bowl trip for the Rams in the last four seasons. Of course, fans watching at home can’t affect who wins or loses, but you can affect the players’ lives through prayer.
You can affect the players’ lives through prayer.
Action Point: Choose a few guys from each team to pray for when you read the starting lineups. Many players on both teams are already involved in attending chapel and discipleship with team chaplains.
5. The Refs
Ronald Tolbert, a 12-year veteran, will be in charge of his first Super Bowl.
Do you know how many rules an NFL official needs to know? They also have to judiciously apply all the rules, in the heat of the moment, with millions of eyes on them (while dressed like a zebra).
Action Point: When the ref inevitably makes a bad call, relax. Your friends notice your actions when things don’t go your way. Your family—your kids!—will notice too. Be a model of grace for those around you, and cut the refs some slack.
6. The Behavior
Jesus says in Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Take opportunities to highlight and praise fair play and good sportsmanship. For example, with sports culture so rampant with pride, try to spot signs of humility. Those might include:
- Helping an opponent get up from the ground
- Tossing the ball to the ref
- Giving credit to a teammate after a successful play
- Not yelling at the ref after a questionable call (or no call)
- Not drawing attention to oneself after a big play is made
- Rallying around a teammate after he makes a mistake
Action Point: Whenever you see someone display an act of humility, give glory to God. Above all, praise him for the humility of Christ, who took on the form of a servant to save us from our sins.
7. The TV Event
The season finale of M*A*S*H in 1983 saw 105.9 million viewers and is still the most-watched episode of a TV show. By comparison, each of the last few Super Bowls corralled viewing audiences hovering over 100 million. As you’re watching Sunday’s game, there will be over 100 million people around the world watching it with you.
There will be over 100 million people around the world watching the game with you.
Action Point: Pray that God would use something about the game to pique people’s spiritual interest. Look for ways to naturally and winsomely—not annoyingly—introduce the gospel into your Super Bowl–party conversations.
8. The Commercials
A 30-second commercial this year will cost advertisers an estimated $6.5 million. What makes that exorbitant price worth it? The consumer’s discontentment with life. You and me. Advertisers convince us that we need their product. As Christians, our contentment shouldn’t come from things (or who wins a game), but from the satisfying life that Christ offers.
Action Point: When the game goes to a commercial, consider your own vulnerability to the tempting nature of “stuff.” Confess your inclination to think, If I only had _________, then my life would be better, and ask Jesus to satisfy you supremely.
9. The Vince Lombardi Trophy
The Super Bowl trophy is named after a coach who had this to say:
After all the cheers have died down and the stadium is empty, after the headlines have been written, and after you are back in the quiet of your room and the championship ring has been placed on the dresser and after all the pomp and fanfare have faded, the enduring thing that is left is the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.
When the game ends and the trophy is handed out, what’s next?
In June 2005, Tom Brady famously said in a 60 Minutes interview:
Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what it is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think: God, it’s gotta be more than this. I mean, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.
Action Point: Pray for the Super Bowl winners. Pray they’d seek their eternal happiness in the triune God whose glory never fades away. Ask the Lord to use this Super Bowl to bring people to himself.