In recent years British church leaders have been fretting that football has appeared to be supplanting Christianity as the nation's principal religion. They cite many similarities between the sport and their faith.
Like Christianity, football has a complex set of rules and rituals. In common with the organised church, its communities meet together for regular acts of worship in order to meet the human need for something greater than can be found in daily living. As with many religions it can be supported for long periods of time by little more than blind faith.
The sport even has its own places of worship.......great stadiums where the faithful gather to worship and sing praise their ‘gods’....Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Ashley Cole et al.
Our religious leaders should worry not. I hardly think facile, morally bankrupt Premiership football stars match up to the triune God who made the universe and created all life!
However our church leaders are correct to be concerned. It is clear that aspects of life and culture are powerful distractions from what the catechism teaches is man’s chief end......the worship of the Living God.
God himself through the first of the Ten Commandments demands our worship and sole allegiance. It is no accident that the first commandment given to Moses reads: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Sadly the first commandment is probably the one which has been broken either wittingly or unwittingly most often in history. This happens most frequently when we place ourselves above God, become in other words, our own ‘gods’, thinking that we know more than the Living God.
The First Commandment demands that we worship God. It forbids the worship of anything or anyone except the Living God. Yet while the commandment clearly states there are no exceptions, human beings give first place in their lives to a multitude of objects and activities every day.
We ‘obsess’ about a better car, a larger house, our businesses, our hobbies, cultural interests and academic achievements rather than finding time for God. When we make ourselves bigger or smarter than the Living God then further rebellion against God (sin) inevitably follows.
The good news is that despite our rebellion against God, we are still loved. God still wants a relationship with each person. To do this he paid the price for our sin through the death of his son Christ Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
The Apostle John in his Gospel neatly summed up this great truth when he wrote:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoeverbelieves in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”.
Given God’s immeasurable love for each individual, worship should inevitably follow.