I’m sitting in the lobby of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel gathering my thoughts about the week I have spent in the Super Bowl host city. It was an interesting week of conflicts. It’s where Christian ideals often come at cross purposes with those of the world. As part of my day job—and a most wonderful job it is—I work in a consultancy with a major division at the NFL. A lot of my work centers around character and leadership development. The men and women with whom I work are of the highest character and standard of leadership. The vast majority of them are God-fearing, Christ-loving Christians who minister to others through their service, their example, and their love for the values the game represents.
This is where the conflict comes. Many Christians make the assumption that because of a Super Bowl commercial or a halftime show that the entire NFL is an evil giant and anyone associated with it is going to hell. Consider that the NFL is about the game. The networks pay the NFL for the ability to carry and present the games. As far as I know, the NFL does not have the right to dictate what the networks wrap around the game. It’s a similar situation with the halftime shows, which are controlled by the host committee at the city where the Super Bowl is held. I most certainly agree that better choices should be made on the entertainment. Family values, I guess, mean different things to different people.
But there is another side to the coin. The countless NFL players and former players who use the NFL platform for community service work, for helping others, and for doing the right thing. These are men who are Christians and, as James 2:18 says, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” They are living out their faith. They create relationships. They hold others accountable. They work with children. And, yes, they are devoted Christians, and you can tell them by their fruits. They use the platform God gave them with football to transfer the love of Christ to others. They are sincere, intentional and very effective. I have witnessed it first-hand. I could name many of them, but they would prefer I didn’t. We are working together to make disciples by creating relationships and setting examples.
One aspect during this Super Bowl week that I found had the opposite effect was the street evangelists with their signs and loudspeakers marching up and down the beach, and standing at the entrance to the Super Bowl, telling everyone they are going to hell. They were so aggressive and obnoxious that people were saying that if they weren’t Christians, they wouldn’t want to be because of these guys. I remember telling one of them that I didn’t need his tract and he told me that I would burn in hell. I replied that I am a pastor. He looked at me like I had three heads. These people might get a rare decision for Christ that then goes un-discipled, but they turn thousands against Christ. Many would say this is the NFL’s fault too, since it happens during Super Bowl week. Point is, don’t be too quick to judge all by the deeds of a few. God uses whom He uses.