A Christian Science perspective: Rooting for spiritual ideals while watching a football game?
Sometimes television scheduling gets backed up during football season, and long-awaited news programs take forever to reach their prescribed airtime. For those of us who aren’t avid or even passive football fans, it is a letdown to say the least.
A few weeks ago I turned on our TV, only to find I would need to wait out the fourth quarter of a major football game before the news started. As I sat patiently watching, one of the players pulled off a pass reception that was quite unbelievable, and while the opposing team ran a great defense, he was unstoppable and ran all the way in for a touchdown. I sat there cheering, finding myself quite elated that I had just witnessed this triumph.
But there was more to come: The rival team came hard and fast, and handed the ball off for a running play. With crowds cheering and me on the edge of my seat, the running back dodged several large, charging defenders, freed himself, and made a touchdown. Wow! Thrilled, I sat there all excited, talking to the television and getting more and more comfortable with the delay to the news show.
Then my daughter remarked how unusual it was that I was cheering for the accomplishments of individual players rather than for a specific team. That got me thinking: What if we related that idea to everyday life? What if, instead of rooting for “teams” – political parties, cultural groups, organizations – we could root for ideas, irrespective of the popular choice? Recently a candidate in a local election made the statement, “If someone has a good idea, who cares if he or she is a Republican or a Democrat?” His platform was ideas that would keep the city moving forward, not party lines.
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul gave some instruction on how to keep “the body of Christ,” as he put it, moving forward. His objective was to see these early Christians unite in their common interests, engaging in successful policies and practices. He wrote: “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (I Corinthians 12:25-28). Earlier in his letter Paul wrote, “God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:4, “The Message” interpretation).
Any group, no matter how large or small, must stay focused on its goals in order to be successful. But when this focus becomes blurred by personal agendas or used for personal gain, it gets lost and we start rooting for the “team” instead of the common interests that keep us united. Now, as this relates to most people’s view of football, it might seem to miss the point. The way the rules of the game are laid out there has to be a winning team. But although we may not have teams in life, we often find there are sides, and there might be demands on us to choose one side or the other.
What would our world look like if we took this “choosing sides” mentality out of business or government? What if we could see our common interests so clearly, and stay focused on these irrespective of personal goals or affiliation? How much better for our common denominators to remain strong.
Mary Baker Eddy, the author of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” reasoned from this basis when she discovered more of God’s government and how His laws, first given to Moses in Exodus 20, still scientifically govern humanity from a fair and balanced basis. Mrs. Eddy realized that the laws of God are a science, divine Science. She wrote: “In reality there is no mortal mind, and consequently no transference of mortal thought and will-power. Life and being are of God. In Christian Science, man can do no harm, for scientific thoughts are true thoughts, passing from God to man” (pp. 103-104).
By agreeing that human will is not power, and that laws, rather than individuals, govern, then certainly the clashing colors of political arenas worldwide lose some of their intensity. By adopting an attitude much like that of a football fan who cheers players rather than teams, we learn to embrace and appreciate ideas, such as a shared love for God, for humanity, for the environment, and for country; mutual respect; economic progress and stability. These concepts come from God, divine intelligence, not human will. Rather than personalities taking credit (or blame) for shared ideas, we would have more substantial conversations, with time focused on the idea rather than on the success of one side or the other.
As for football, well, admittedly I probably won’t become a huge fan in the future, but I will always be grateful that I discovered a love for the individual achievements of the players rather than pulling for one team or another. And if you find yourself seated next to me while watching a game, get ready – I’ll be cheering for every touchdown!