With the beautiful game ongoing in South Africa we are going to have several short (half-time sized?) articles looking what spiritual lessons we can learn from the World Cup. Because football is good, and God is awesome, so anything that could combine the two should be pretty epic, right? (And for any Americans reading – please, please, please for just one month call it football not soccer, ok?)
#1 – Training
The 32 teams competing in South Africa won’t just turn up on match day and expect things to go well. They have spent several weeks training together, working through tactics, trying out moves, improving their fitness and getting ready. Likewise we need to put in effort into getting ready. 1 Peter 3:15 says “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” Our ‘big matches’ aren’t World cup games, but evangelism opportunities, chances to shine with Christ’s love in the world and we need to make sure we are ready for them when they come up. And the way to do that is through training. Practicing to make sure we are able to confidently talk about our faith with non-believing friends.
#2 – Kit
Before the teams take to the pitch they have various pieces of kit they need to put on – the team shirt so everyone knows what team they are on, boots so they can kick the ball, shin-guards to protect their ankles in tackles, a sports car to attract the WAGs. And likewise we have various pieces of kit we need to put on too. Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” If we want to do will in this life, we cannot do so relying solely in our own strength. We need to take advantage of the help that God’s armour provides, putting on daily the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the boots of peace and the sword of the Spirit.