Last night, myself and over 100 million of my closest friends tuned in to watch the most televised event of the year: The Super Bowl. For those of you who decided to watch This Is Us instead, you missed a thrilling game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. As a fan who didn’t have a tie to either team, watching a back and forth chess match was extremely entertaining. To see arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Tom Brady, go up against a back-up quarterback and a stout defense was what made this game so entertaining and worth watching until the end. Now, I know that there are plenty of story lines that will take place over the next few days: “Will Brady Retire?” “Where will Foles be sent once he contract comes to an end?” “The Offense overshadowed both defenses during this shootout” and so on. But there will be one headline that won’t be blasted across Sportscenter, a headline I find to be the most important: “Eagles players use their platform as NFL players to bring glory to Jesus Christ.”
Growing up as an avid Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins fan, I quickly developed a strong dislike for the Phillies and the Eagles. There was something about the city of Philadelphia and their fans that made me wish that these organizations were no longer in existence (yes, I was a passionate middle school boy who thought that sports was the end all be all). However, after this season and watching what the Eagles have done, my perspective has changed (Still don’t like the Phillies, Fliers, or 76ers. Sorry to all my Philly people out there).
I’m sure there are many Christians across all sorts of sports team, but I have never seen anything like what is going on in Philadelphia. Many of these players not only “Give glory to God” but they talk about a purpose that is greater than football that only comes through Jesus. We have experienced, through men such as Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Nick Foles, and so on, a revival taking place before our eyes and if we aren’t paying attention, we might miss what the Lord is doing through this football team.
I was reading in Psalm 20 this morning and came across this verse: “May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.” Not to take this verse out of context, because David was preparing for a legitimate battle, but I want to point to the fact that the Eagles have “Raised a victory banner in the name of our God.”
Zach Ertz, in a press conference before the Super Bowl talked about how he noticed something was different in some of his teammates and he wanted that. He saw that there lives weren’t dictated by the outcome of a football game, rather they were consistent throughout the good and bad times. A year ago, he decided to make the Lord the center of his life and since then, has committed to making disciples wherever he goes.
Nick Foles, knows that football is only temporary. He knows that it is a season of his life that he can use to glorify the Lord in all that he does and share that with others in the process. In fact, in the offseason, he takes online seminary classes through Liberty University. Why, you may ask? He said: “I want to be a pastor in a high school. It’s on my heart. I took a leap of faith last year and signed up to take classes at seminary. I wanted to continue to learn and challenge my faith. It’s a challenge because you are writing papers that are biblically correct. You want to impact people’s hearts.”
Carson Wentz has used every opportunity that he has on Twitter or any time a mic is put in front of his face to acknowledge the name of Jesus Christ. He has been the leader of this team and it has been an encouragement to see how he carries himself as a man of faith.
I share those things because all of these men have one thing in common: they want to use their platform to bring glory to the name of Jesus. They’re not trying to take anything away from the work that their teammates, coaches, and people in the organization have put in. Rather, they are pointing people to something that is much bigger than football. They want to use the platform, that has been given unto them by the Lord, to show people that there is something else out there that is more important than being NFC East division champs, NFC Champs, or Super Bowl Champs. They have shown us that they are normal human beings, who make mistakes daily, but are committed to leading a life that is filled with purpose because of what Jesus has done on the cross for them. If you’re someone that has become annoyed with how they have used their platform, know that they aren’t trying to beat the dead horse by talking about Jesus every chance they get. Instead, these men want to talk about the only thing that will give you hope for eternity. They want to let others in on the hope and joy that they have and what a blessing it is to see them use their platform to point others to this truth.
On the flip side of this spotlight and platform, many Christians might use this team to hide behind. In the back of Christian’s minds, they might be cheering for them because it makes Christianity a popular trend that people should follow. They might begin to think that they may never experience persecution of any kind if this is a trend. I would ask any of us who struggle with that to check our hearts and why we would desire that to happen. Christianity, at its core, is not a popular thing to follow. The Bible tells us to “die to ourselves” and to “pick up our cross daily” and both of those things are not popular. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t desire for every person to know Jesus, but we should be careful about the heart behind it!
Instead of hiding behind their platform, I firmly believe that the Lord is calling us to use our own platforms and do what these men are doing. You may not be a Super Bowl Champion or have 1 million+ followers on Twitter, but, if you’ve made a decision to follow Jesus, you have a platform. Like these men, you have a choice with how you use that platform. You can either, bask in your own glory and soak up the fame and fortune, OR you can learn how to deflect that platform to Jesus. So, whether you’re working at a fast food restaurant, are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, are a pastor, or a parent, I challenge you to think about how you are using your platform to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you to the Eagles for how they’ve used their platform and spotlight on the biggest stage in the world to point to a God who will never fail us or let us down. You may be growing on me, Eagles, but always, HTTR!