Does God intervene in Sports?
The recent Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao boxing match has generated much debate in all areas of life. As a man who serves in the church sphere, I have been intrigued by the interesting narrative playing out in the Christian domain, concerning the majority of christians siding with Pacquiao based on his religious declarations. Those who sided with Mayweather seem to be getting viewed with disdain for not supporting a fellow Christian ala Manny. Here are a few thoughts I would like to share on this debate.
- There is no scripture in the bible where God intervened in the realm of sports. David vs Goliath was not a sporting event but a military fight with the destiny of the Nation of Israel at stake. The stakes in the world of sports are not of a biblical magnitude. Therefore, swiftly taper your expectations for radical divine intervention in all sporting events. It is not biblical.
- There is no sporting event that has the power to cancel or advance God’s plans for humanity. God’s obsession is the advancement of His Sovereign divine purposes and will. In His hierarchy of priorities, sport does not feature.
- God leaves sports decisions in the realm of man. One of the most powerful tools God has given man is free will. There are many decisions in the earth which God delegates to man, and man are free to make decisions that can go against His will. Even if God supported your soccer team He will not force his will on the game, the will of the players on pitch will decide who wins. In this case the iron will of Floyd prevailed against Manny.
- Both fighters claim to be christian. I know Manny is more vocal and attends a local church but Floyd claims to be a Christian too and even thanks God for his blessings and wins. So in that ring you had a publicly perfect christian vs a publicly highly flawed christian. Based on their “different levels of christianity” God should have blessed Manny with the win but at the same time, He said , He leaves the 99 to seek the 1 who is lost. So on that note God could have blessed the 1 who is lost who is Floyd. As you can see, It is just too murky and foolhardy to drag God into the realm sport.
- We are not called to find spiritual significance from sports. Is the church so starved of heroes and success stories that, when anyone with a semblance of success, who claims to be of Jesus shows up, we quickly jump on their bandwagon? Our significance is not to be drawn from man, but from Christ and Christ alone. We must refrain from spiritualising sports and drawing theological inferences from what plays out in the respective arenas.
- In the sporting world you are not obligated to support an individual just because he is christian. Being christian does not place an irrevocable obligation on everyone in Christendom to support you in the sporting arena. We wish you well as a fellow christian but people are free to support another player, athlete or team based on their own subjective inclinations. It is not a sin to support a muslim soccer player or dare I say Tiger Woods with his off field scandals. You support what they do on the field, the excellence they bring not their private lives and religious positions.
- Everyone who wears a t-shirt written Jesus is Lord doesn’t make them spiritually mature. I was disappointed with how Manny handled and is handling the post fight process. Mayweather (the sinner) straight after the fight, thanked God, his father and Manny for the fight. On the other hand Manny responded in a very concerning immature fashion by saying, “I thought I won, he did nothing”?? T-shirts written Jesus, don’t make you mature in Christ, its in how you respond to adversity, failure, loss and the disappointments of life. He should have said “ I want to thank God for this fight even though I lost He is still and always the winner from age to age, I am just a man, He is God and He is the undisputed champion”. That would have struck a chord. Now couple that with his dishonesty surrounding his shoulder injury, it gets more and more murky to rope God into this particular sporting event.
- Sports are not decided by prayer they are decided by giftedness (talent), hardwork, rigorous training, intelligence, strategy, experience and ultimately execution on the day. The past world cup in Brazil (2014) is a sign. African teams are the most prayerful teams and some even use African juju too but fail to win. The Brazilian football team was the most prayerful yet suffered the heaviest defeat in its history to Germany. Sports are not decided by prayer.
- Sport is just sport. It is not real life people, do not be too emotionally invested. It is simply entertainment there is no theological or spiritual matter at stake that can reverse, the defeat satan received on the cross from Jesus Christ. There is no soccer match, cricket match, golf tournament, boxing fight that will lead to the second coming of Christ being speeded up or delayed. So keep calm, enjoy your respective sports teams and athletes and leave it there.
- Both men got a huge paycheque at the end of the fight. Unless you are on the payroll of Manny or Floyd or your favourite soccer team there is no sense in being an evangelist nor apologist for them. The passion of sports fans must not be translated into anger against those who do not support your team or athlete. Unless you are on the payroll keep calm. Those two men are multi millionaires, arguing for them or against them is waste of your time and theirs. Focus on you and how to take care of your family and generations after you. May God bless you with that Mayweather money one day!
Pastor Israel Phiri