Sports metaphors are so cliche in our society, especially in the church-so much that I almost hate to even use them. But I am, anyway. Many sports figures have written books about their faith and how it impacted their playing/coaching careers. So I’ll ask this…have you ever wondered what sport Jesus would play? And if so, what position? I know he had more important things to do like dying for the sins of humanity and rising from the grave with the keys of death and hell. But if he had come as a star athlete, I think I know what he would have been. Jesus would have been an offensive lineman on a football team.
In just about every major team sport (except football), all players are presented the opportunity to make a positive statistical impact on their teams. In basketball, five players move the ball around and while one might put up 35 points, there are four other guys playing defense and giving him the ball. Nine baseball players take the field and each has equal opportunity to make a spectacular diving catch. Each gets up to three strikes and four balls offered up to drive into the outfield seats. Even defensemen in hockey get to cross the center ice on a power play and take a shot if it presents itself. But not football.
While corners and safeties make interceptions, linebackers blitz, and defensive linemen stop runs in the backfield…while receivers make toe-tapping catches and running backs juke up the middle…while the quarterback controls the clock, feeds everyone the ball, and adjusts to the defensive formations…there is another group of people on the field…the offensive line.
Linemen have been called the “big uglies” of football. They stand play after play, doing their job, making a wall for the backfield. And the only time they really get recognition is when they do something wrong–miss a block, false start, or get called for a hold. But when the running back breaks into the end zone or when the quarterback has “all day” to pick up that first down, it was the offensive line that was making that happen. Offensive linemen do not have statistics for “most blocks” or “most runs to that side”. They just do their job, play after play. There’s no personal agenda, no spiking the ball in the end zone (ask Jason Witten and Mark Columbo about this) -just waiting for the snap and going to work.
In the Christian life, there is a tendency to want to receive pats on the back. We like to “serve others” and be recognized for it. I know I have been guilty of that at times and if you have a job in ministry, you could probably attest to that as well. But the reality is that the Christian life can seem like a thankless experience. There often are no ticker tape parades, just the inner satisfaction of knowing you made a difference in the world. That is my favorite thing about taking students on mission trips. They learn to serve without any recognition and it changes them. Jesus said he came not to be served, but to served. It was our Lord who spent his last living hours of life, humbly washing the feet of his followers. It wasn’t about glory or recognition. It was about accomplishing his Father’s purpose.
I know from the writings of Paul that he was a sports fan. Jesus? Probably not so much. But if he played, I think he’d play football. What do you think?