Super Bowl can distract us from what's important

February 2, 2013 

Professional football? I've followed it since I was a boy. I dabble in fantasy football. My wife's parents own a share of Green Bay Packers stock.

Tomorrow I will watch some of the Super Bowl. ("Downton Abbey" on PBS will pre-empt part of the game at our house.)

Upshot: I don't think televised football is pure evil. But Super Bowls mislead many. Here's how:

n Financially. Eachteam member fromtomorrow's winning team will get a bonus of $88,000. For 30-second ads during the game, CBS is charging $3.7 million to $3.8 million. The NFL hopes next season to gross $10 billion.

All the money that surrounds the most popular televised sport among us belies what Jesus said is super: many of his followers having little.

"Blessed are you who are poor," Jesus said, "for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20).

Does God mean that having little automatically brings you close tohim? No. But "the loveof money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10).

Confer the millions that people will gamble and lose tomorrow, betting on everything from who will win the game to how many times announcers will say "Harbaugh" during it. (The Las Vegas over/under was 21.5 the other day.)

If that doesn't give you pause, what about that you can already bet online on next year's Super Bowl?

n Emotionally. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest at-home party evenings of the year. And who doesn't enjoy a good time with plenty to eat and drink?

Yet Jesus said, ""Blessed are the poor in spirit." Really? The emotionally bankrupt have it good? The spiritually penniless have it super?

"Theirs is the kingdom of heaven," Jesus explained.

"Blessed are those who mourn," he added, "for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:3-4).

n Excesses. Jesus attended parties. But he taught us to seek things above (Colossians 3:1).

Christians don't expect heaven on earth now. We are eager for eternal life with God on the new earth.

So I keep getting prayer requests. Why? Judy's mom just died. Dan's wife has been in and out of the hospital. Kevin's dad has aggressive, terminal cancer.

Christians still have it super. We will live forever with God because Jesus died for all the world. He proved it by rising bodily from death.

n Time. The Bible mentions the mindset: If this is all there is, have as much fun as you can while you can.

"Let us eat and drink," some said long ago, "for tomorrow we die" (1 Corinthians 15:32).

Christians look beyond the grave, instead, to what is eternal. The last time Jesus spoke of something sincerely super, he said:

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).

The Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 941-747-5564. For more information, see www.rsavior.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.

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