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What’s the Connection between Football and Reality?


So, which English football team do you support?

The weekend’s victory of Manchester City over Manchester United (6-1) has caused quite a bit of comment on local radio stations here in Northern Ireland this morning. At least three different programmes on BBC’s local station, Radio Ulster, have carried discussions on the win, with pundits analysing the game and many listeners phoning in to give their opinions. Other stations probably have been talking about it too. It appears that a local football derby in Manchester is of immense interest and importance to us here in Ulster. But why? The vast majority of people who support English teams here, will never have the opportunity to actually attend a match.

Now, I realise that support of Manchester United is not in any sense local, for the team is watched on TV screens right across the world. But it’s not the same as actually being there, is it? I’m not in the slightest bit interested in football, but I would imagine that the excitement that is engendered by actually being at the match, being part of the crowd, enjoying the human interaction that goes on between stands and pitch, cannot be replicated in your own armchair. You would miss the buzz, the sense of belonging, the emotion that being part of a crowd brings.

When I was at school, I had a teacher who constantly berated boys who supported famous English football teams. (He wouldn’t get away with it nowadays!) He would ask a boy, ‘What team do you support, boy?’. The hapless youth would reply, ‘Liverpool, Sir’. The teacher would tower over the boy and glare at him, ‘Liverpool, boy?’ ‘And what team do you support in the South African Tiddlywinks League, boy?’ ‘No team, Sir.’ ‘Why not, boy. After all, you have as much chance of seeing Cape Town United win the tiddlywinks league as seeing Liverpool play a match.’ His point was that we schoolboys should have realistic expectations, and should support teams situated in a place where we have a reasonable expectation of actually attending a match from time to time. Truthfully, none of my contemporaries at school 45 years ago had any prospect of watching Liverpool or Manchester United play live. We could never have afforded the fare, and travel ‘across the water’ was much more of a hurdle than it is today.

Spiritually speaking, the Bible also tells us that we are to live with a sense of realism. We are to be realistic about ourselves. Sometimes we think more highly than ourselves than we ought, for whether we like it or not, we are all sinners, and we all fall short of God’s standards. There’s no point in denying it. The Bible teaches it and human nature confirms that teaching. We are to be realistic about life. You would think to listen to some of us that we are going to live for ever. We are not. The Bible tells us that our appointment with the grave is already made. …it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 ESV)

We are to be realistic about eternity. What reasonable prospect do we have of being in heaven, if our sins are not dealt with? God is Holy, and there’s no point in pleading that God loves everybody, so hopefully we’ll be all right. We won’t. God’s love was demonstrated for us at Calvary, and if we reject that demonstration of love, we have rejected Him.

Let’s be realistic. Face the facts of life. We cannot have hope in eternity outside of Christ. We must cast ourselves on His mercy and grace.

From → Perspectives

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