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David Hegg: Manning, Wilson: brothers of Christ

Posted: February 1, 2014 10:35 p.m.
Updated: February 1, 2014 10:35 p.m.

Today millions around the world will gather with jersey-clad friends and family to eat and cheer their way through the Super Bowl. This championship of professional football in America has been the darling of the sports media for several weeks now, and finally the hoopla will give way to actual athletic competition.

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks (for those of you who have been in a coma the last few weeks) will represent their cities and fans in the biggest game of the year. In many ways, each of the players on the two teams has been ordering their lives for this game since they first were handed a football. Countless hours of physical training, mental preparation, intentional deprivation, along with hundreds of previous competitive events have finally won them the privilege of putting it all on the line as the world watches. After all, they don’t call it the Super Bowl for nothing. In sports it simply doesn’t get any bigger than this.

Yet, the two men who will feel the heat of the spotlight the most are on record saying this game, and indeed football itself, takes a backseat to other priorities in their lives. These two men – quarterbacks – could not be more different on the surface. Though they play the most important position on their respective teams the contrasts have been the stuff of intense media attention.

Denver’s Peyton Manning has just completed the most prolific season by a quarterback in the history of the National Football League. At 37 he is the aged veteran, known for his massive football intellect and unmatched cunning in reading defenses, calling audibles at the line, and picking secondaries apart with surgical precision.

He’s been there, done that, and continues to do so at a level never before seen.

Seattle’s Russell Wilson is another story. In only his second year as an NFL quarterback he is still learning - by his own admission - and watching him play confirms it. He’s a long way from flashy, is undersized, and doesn’t always make the best choices. As many have been saying, he lacks experience. They say “he can’t do this and can’t do that. About all he can do is beat you” as the Seahawks have shown all season.

But don’t let the contrasts fool you. As men, Manning and Wilson are like brothers. In fact, that’s what they themselves claim. They are brothers in Christ, and each man has publicly claimed that his faith in Christ lies at the foundation of his life, and as such, everything he does is focused on reflecting the nature and glory of God. Even football, and maybe especially football.

It is their commitment to an ethical worldview that explains why both men, whether they win or lose, do so with grace and self-control. Both are self-effacing, exemplary team players whose on field success must take a backseat to their off-field maturity as godly men. They see their lives as meant to do far more than throw passes and win championships. They understand that, as those who represent their Creator, they are playing in a game that is much more super than football. They live to win at life. Yes, they are superstars, but in each man’s mind they are really just joyful servants of the only truly super Man, their Savior Jesus Christ.

So, as we watch the game – or not! -  let’s remember that it is just that … a game. And although it will be exciting, sport is really meant to illustrate fundamental ethical truths. Through it we learn life is best played according to the rules, that you can never win alone, that recognition should always follow – not precede – accomplishment, and that, as Manning and Wilson have told us, following Christ is the best way to put life and its complexities in proper perspective. One of them will win and the other will lose. But for both men, the true win will be the opportunity they have had to use their talents and character to showcase a commitment to their Christian worldview.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs every Sunday.


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