Yesterday afternoon I was glued to the television watching Japan defeat the USA in the women’s World Cup final. The game itself was riveting, filled with plenty of very well played soccer (or football, if you like).
Naturally, given the state of Japan following the horrible March tsunami and subsequent earthquakes and near meltdown of a nuclear power plant, the grand story was about this Japanese national team lifting the spirits of its homeland and the world by defeating potentially stronger opponents in Germany and the US. It is a fantastic story. The Japanese women were well deserving and certainly the nation as a whole will benefit from the victory.
As I lay in bed trying to fall asleep last night, I couldn’t help my mind wandering toward an interesting question: Did God play a role in the victory of Japan in the World Cup?
Similar questions have been asked throughout the years as it relates to other significant sporting events. (The 2009 New Orleans Saints come to mind.)
Most often, I’ve heard Christians (friends and talking heads alike) merely scoff at the notion with a quick, “God doesn’t care about sports!” This is akin to the reaction of many conservative Americans to President Obama’s March Madness picks. Surely there must be more important things to focus on.
Perhaps such an argument is appropriate for a limit world leader; he only has so much time. But the Creator is not only omnipotent, but omnipresent. Time and space are irrelevant. So while there may be more important things towards which God should direct His attention, His power in other parts of the world are not diminished by tuning into the World Cup for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.
But really, how unimportant was this particular soccer match? Millions of people around the world were paying attention to the match. If God were to do something remarkable, He’d have the world’s attention. No one living above ground in the last six months is unaware of the tragedies that have fallen on the island nation. Not only were the Japanese themselves looking for hope, but, I believe, the rest of the world was too.
I’ve heard it said, from certain Christian leaders, that if it matters to us, it matters to God. The point is simple. The God of the Bible is particularly concerned with anything that happens in the affairs of humanity. The whole point of Scripture regards the Creator’s intersection of His creation, specifically, humanity. So if a sporting event matters to humanity, God is likely paying attention, at least.
From a different angle, I find it altogether upsetting, that one might attribute, on the one hand, a great tragedy to our loving Father, but refuse to grant Him credit for a great blessing. For example, I find myself sickened by the prospect that someone might ascribe Japan’s tsunami to the Creator (ask, would Jesus have done such a thing?), but refuse to think that same God might want to bring hope and relief to Japan through sport.
For me, personally, I won’t make any statements about the Lord’s involvement in yesterday’s match, though I wouldn’t put it past Him. I simply don’t know what He was up to yesterday during the game. But, based on what I know of Him, it seems He be all in favor of a bit of hope and joy for the nation of Japan, no matter the source.
What do you think? Was God involved in the World Cup final? Does the Lord care about sports? Does He care about anything else that’s important to you?