By Matt Gordon
Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say, “It’s first and ten!”
Or to echo one of the worst songs ever made: “Are you ready for some football?!”
That’s right, the Super Bowl is upon us, which brings to mind another saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” And no, I’m not talking about Tom Brady (at least not entirely).
COVID-19 is going to change the way we celebrate one of our favorite spectacles. Fewer fans will be allowed at Raymond James Stadium, with just over 20,000 permitted to attend. The Kansas City Chiefs won’t spend a week taking in the pomp and circumstance. Instead, they’ll arrive one day before the big game. Mainstay advertisers also seem late in getting there—several perennial players in the annual commercial competition are taking a knee this year.
While this is just the short list of championship changes, much is the same. There will be an overhyped halftime show—this year’s feature is The Weeknd. People will still consume their favorite heart-stopping foods and drinks. Lots of it. (325 million gallons of beer are consumed on Super Bowl weekend!).
Super Bowl behavior
The parties will be different, but the people will be the same. There will be those who actually don’t care much about football but need to convince everyone they do. Without being able to virtue signal their steadfast dedication in person, this Super Bowl party regular will likely take to social media to marvel at all the wrong things at all the wrong times.
Then there’s the person who hates all things football but watches the game for the halftime show. He or she will critique every note and move with ferocity. The perfect tribute could even bring about tears. There’s the grumpy super fan who watches isolated from family. And the cheery kitchen keeper who keeps the snacks and smiles coming.
All types of changes, yet a celebratory sameness: two teams fighting for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. And all the rest of us watching. Rapt. Committed. Passionate.
Worship: that, perhaps, is the biggest regularity of all.
We sing and cheer and dance. The players are tackled, but it is our hearts laying prostrate before the tv.
Every human on earth is a worshiper. Yoked together with a constant desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves, we raise up causes and celebrities, hopes and dreams. We are magnetized by any semblance of transcendence. Even that of our own conjuring.
“Here I am to worship!”
This is no surprise to God. He knew the Israelites, after all. Recall those first two of the Ten Commandments he gave to those worshiping wanderers: I am your God, and You shall have no other gods before me.
It makes no sense to command a non-behavior. God wouldn’t forbid us from other gods unless we were inclined to worship other gods. No, God gives us commands for our good and his glory. He warns against the natural tendencies of the heart. A heart, mind you, that he made.
Genesis tells us that humans are made in God’s image. The Psalms sing that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” And Ecclesiastes summarizes it by claiming that eternity is set in the human heart. Our hearts long for otherworldliness. We yearn for something bigger, always craving more.
So we turn to football games we won’t remember.
Rejoicing as you watch the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is great fun. The fandom reveals a wild fancy reminiscent of our creation. Here we are to worship, again.
Yet the Super Bowl makes a lousy god. It cannot satisfy the ravenous hunger. This world, and all its offerings, are forever short of the yard to gain. Finding fulfillment here is a chasing after the wind (or trying to catch Tyreek Hill in the open field).
CS Lewis writes, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
We are made to worship. So as we eat and cheer and share in the festivities, bonded together by more than a game—indeed, tethered by our very humanity—we should rejoice.
Not in a Mahomes’s touchdown pass or the age-defying pedigree of Brady. But in a God who put inside us a beautiful mechanism drawing us home to him. Our desire to worship on this earth reveals God’s ultimate plan for us: to worship him forever. And even this secret revelation, found in Super Bowl Sunday, gives us yet another reason to worship him.
So we watch the Super Bowl. Rapt. Committed. Passionate. And along with the world, we enjoy the fanfare. But always, we worship the God of all splendor, who whispers reminders back to our hearts of our bigger purpose. Amid the hype, the fields, the roaring crowds, we remember: “Here I am to worship.”
How can you prepare your heart for worship on a daily basis? Start by making a plan to spend time reading your Bible. Click below to download our free Bible Reading Plan printable.
About the Author
Matt Gordon is the Director of Faith and Community at Veterans United Home Loans. He writes and posts videos and podcasts at vufaith.com. He’s also written one bad humor book called The Monkeys of God. Matt lives in Columbia, MO, with his wife, Hannah, and two wild sons, MJ and Joey. In his spare time, Matt remembers that he doesn’t really have any spare time and then goes to find the son he accidentally abandoned.