A Message to the Observing Philistines
I am a sucker for David vs. Goliath stories. Some of my favorite movies of all time are Miracle (a movie that details the unlikely win of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team), The Karate Kid (a 1980s favorite), Rocky ("Yo, Adrienne!"), Major League ("You saying Jesus can't hit a curve ball?"), and Rudy (a young man whose unwillingness to give up should be an lesson to all of us). So, it is no surprise that I was rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles last night during Super Bowl LII. I'm not a football fan. I don't have a favorite team, and I don't really know any of the players, except for the most famous ones--the ones who regularly make the news, that is. But how could I resist cheering for the underdog in this contest of athletes?
The upset of the obviously better football team last night was not only a surprise to most, but it was also an inspiration to many. Even more inspirational, in my opinion, was that Foles, the Eagles quarterback, was an underdog himself. Who expected the back-up quarterback to do anything significant? Before the game, I'm sure most commentators were saying things like, "There's no way a second-rate quarterback is going to beat one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history!" But, guess what? He did! And he did so in the fashion of a champion.
So, it's no surprise that social media has been rife with articles about the Eagles victory this morning. And, yes, I've read a few of these. Most are typical, few have anything significant to say, and virtually all of them will be nothing more than unremembered history by the end of the day. However, the ones that have stood out above the rest, in my mind, are the ones that discuss Foles' evangelical Christian faith and his desire to become a pastor after football. Admittedly, I am impressed by this young man. During the post-game interview, where he was announced as the Super Bowl MVP, Foles made it a point to praise the Lord for the team's victory and to proclaim his faith. This is an admirable thing to do. I'm am also impressed that amid his athletic success, he still has plans to become a pastor. He seems like a grounded young Christian with a good handle on what's most important in life. Bravo, Mr. Foles.
However, I am more than a bit irritated with the many Philistine Christians who have written or will write the articles about Foles. Had Wentz not gotten hurt and led the Eagles to their victory, had Foles and the Eagles not won the Super Bowl, had the Eagles never gone to the Super Bowl, or had Foles performed poorly during the game, then, let's be honest, we wouldn't be hearing a thing about this young man's faith. We've gotten so accustomed to our modern celebrity culture that we cannot celebrate the regular Joe. The common Christians who slug through each day, overcoming sometimes significant obstacles in their service to God, aren't good enough for us. There are many true David's in this world who are slaying Goliaths every day--much more significant than an opponent in an athletic contest--yet these men and women will never be known. Why? Because they aren't famous, they don't make millions of dollars a year, and they don't draw large crowds of adoring fans. What about the single mother of three who works two jobs so she can provide for her children and pay for the gas to drive them to youth group and church each week? What about the missionary who has to raise his own support to then live in a third-world country and endure the political and physical dangers therein? What about the handicapped man who could have given up many years ago, but because of his faith in God, has endured many hardships and is now a loyal worker at his local church? What about the couple who had a vision for living a life of luxury, but who decided, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to instead give their lives to helping the homeless in their community? Do we celebrate these folks? Sometimes, yes. Often times, no. Our churches would typically rather invite famous Christian speakers to their Sunday services instead of the regular Joe's and Jane's. Our Christian universities would rather invite the Foleses of the world to lead their convocations. Regular folks just won't do. They don't have the glitz and glamour to attract the crowds or to garner the applause of our nation's youth. So, these wonderful, everyday Christians go unnoticed . . . by the world leastways.
Don't misunderstand me. I think Foles is a great guy, and I am just as inspired by famous Christians as anyone else. But I have to remind myself constantly that the "little Christians" of the world are just as inspirational and are just as worthy of our attention. What message do we send our youth when we just focus on the rich and famous? When Christian universities only invite the wealthy and well-known to their convocations, what are we saying to them about Christian service and humility? I think you know the answer! So, to the observing Philistines out there, I recommend you remember that the contest you just witnessed is only one of many that happen every day on the battlefield, and God sees fit to celebrate them all. God is just as impressed by the Rahabs, Stephens, Barnabases, and Shems of the world as he is with the Peters, Pauls, and, yes, Davids. Any of his people can successfully sling the stones. It's about faith, not fame.
Photo by Matthew Staubmuller at https://www.flickr.com/photos/imatty35/8200732202/