by Ken Rolheiser
Super Bowl Christians   

For the sake of those who did not see it, let me say Super Bowl 2016 was one of the greatest football games ever. Whenever the best teams meet in a championship match the fans get a treat. Throw into the mix Peyton Manning winning his 200th career game against a team that was virtually unbeatable and the word Super is well placed.

This year’s Super Bowl inspired a metaphor for courage. Consider Manning’s earlier season injury and his struggles in the regular season where in just 10 games he had a 59.8 per cent completion, his lowest season ever. Then we see his rise to victory in a new light.

Of course having a history of achievement helps. Five time Most Valuable Player Award, being the only quarter-back to ever win the Super Bowl for more than one team and being the oldest quarter back to ever play in the Super Bowl help define his greatness.

A protagonist is always greatest when he has a worthy adversary. Peyton Manning was attacked by Panthers, smashed down, sacked, beaten relentlessly, and he still marched on to victory. He had good help; the best defense in the league. I saw a smaller player Chris Harris who had been nursing a tender shoulder knock a huge Philistine, or maybe it was a Panther, out of the play.

The Carolina Panthers should not be shedding tears after the Super Bowl game. Their 15 and 1 season is that of champions. Playing your heart out is a good metaphor for a follower of Christ. When you are 4th and 24 in your own end with 2 minutes left to play, you know the opposition is tough. You still reach down deep for that extra courage to carry on.

When it’s all over you say a thank you to the man upstairs, Manning said. Not a bad example of using the talents God gave you and striving to achieve the best you are capable of.

In our ordinary lives we often do not receive the accolades we have earned. I know parents who should by Most Valuable Player nominees. And how many times are we thrown for a loss in our daily struggles? That feeling of third and long is all too familiar.

The image of both quarter backs having the ball stripped from their throwing arms with a force that could break bones was part of the game metaphor. You and I face sudden and crippling physical shortcomings that sideline us from the game. Cancer surgery, heart attack or stroke? But we come back from injury and carry on as long as the Coach has us in the game.

But we are assured of the ultimate success. “I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. Let us then…continue on the same course” (Philippians 3:14-17).

It does not matter how long we play in the great game, or how many comebacks we achieve. We will one day hear those words that will cap off the victory in ways greater than the Super Bowl party ever could: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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