The World Cup: “One Game [Man] Changes Everything”

The World Cup is back!

The following is a post that I wrote four years ago as the World Cup kicked off in South Africa. Now it is time for the tournament to begin in Brazil. With a new opportunity to watch the nations of the world to gather together, I wanted to share this again since the substance behind the World Cup’s shadow is still as true today.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please let me know if and when you are going to be watching the World Cup, and who you will be cheering for.

My team for the third World Cup in a row is Ivory Coast. Go Elephants!

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“One Game [Man] Changes Everything”

As the official slogan for the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa, “One Game Changes Everything” demonstrates how much enthusiasm the world has placed into an amazing game. Commercials for the World Cup show babies being named after favorite soccer heroes. Statues are built to memorialize the greats. In the news, it is common to hear reports of crazed fans rioting and even killing each other over the outcome of a game.
No matter what you’re personal feelings are about soccer, you cannot deny the level of passion involved.

The World Cup has once again captured the world’s attention. Even the United States has followed the tournament this year with enthusiasm. I believe there are two underlying reasons why the game has captured our attention like never before.

Two reasons the World Cup Captures our Attention

First, the world is longing for hope. We don’t get much hope from the news reports of

This is what we are used to seeing when the world comes together.

everyday life. Instead of hope, our normal days are filled with fear and anxiety.

What is causing audiences to be rapt with awe with the World Cup is what took the nation by storm in the last presidential election. In the midst of the usual, depressing spin of life, people found something that looked like “hope”.

Real or not, hope is contagious.

Second, the world is longing for unity and peace. Along with the Olympics, the World Cup is one of the few regular events that brings the nations together to perform on one stage. The diversity of color and culture – this canvas of international flavor  – rightfully inspires us.

Beyond the beauty of the sport, the World Cup presents to us two realities that capture the hearts and minds of every person: hope and unity among the nations.

Two Longings Left Unfulfilled

However, even as the World Cup points to these truths, the hope and unity it presents is not complete or final.
First, this longing for hope ultimately points to the hope and unity found in Jesus Christ alone.

“Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” (Rom 5:1-2).

Second, not only is the hope we all long for ultimately found in Christ, but the inner longing we each experience when we witness gatherings of people from across the globe such as the World Cup are rooted in God’s purpose of bringing people from all nations to form a people for His son.

One day the nations will gather to celebrate the One who does change everything.

“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth,'” (Rev 5:9-10).

While the marketing team behind the ads for the World Cup suggests that “One Game Changes Everything”, one can appreciate how this game points to the great truths that we as a people long for hope and to be united with others from every nation; however, the game of soccer fails to ultimately fulfill those longings.

These longings are not satisfied by a mere game but are fulfilled by the One Man Who Changes Everything.

“For God was pleased to have his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross,” (Col 1:19-20).

 

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