A Church Planter Watches The Super Bowl
Feb 03, 2014
Okay, I just have to say I loved watching the Super Bowl last night! Being a church planter in the State of Washington, watching the domination by the Seattle Seahawks over the Denver Broncos was simply a beautiful thing. It was a scene after the game that stirred me the most though: thousands of Broncos fans and Seahawks fans jammed together, waiting while the New Jersey train system figured out what to do with them all. The Green and Blue of the Seattle fans mixed together with the Orange and Blue of the Denver fans, reminding me that we're all in this life together, and that the most unlikely groups of people can be united on the journey toward home.
I'm pretty sure that as we all go back to work today, Broncos fans are surviving and Seahawks fans are thriving, and we really don't hate each other. When I saw a picture this morning of a little Broncos fan crying on his dad's lap, I felt bad for the kid. His heros lost the day, the bad guys won (in his world view), and his dad has the job of comforting him and teaching him about life. That little Bronco fan is not my enemy. Neither are the Broncos, actually, except when they are playing the Seahawks or the Chiefs!
Two thousand years ago though, firmly rooted in deep animosity, there were some enemies that just didn't mingle: Jews and Samaritans despised one another. They didn't mix, and would never stand together in line for mass transit (rent-a-donkey?). Jews avoided Samaritans like the plague, especially for religious reasons. (Christians would never treat others like that today though, right?) This culture of self-exalting avoidance was passed on from father to son until one day when the gospel of Jesus Christ and the good news of the kingdom of God came to town.
Extreme persecution had broken out in the Jerusalem area against Christians, who were teaching that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Under this persecution, Christians began to scatter out from Jerusalem, and some of them went into Samaria, the land of the untouchables. This would be a good place to go when trying to get away from religious Jews, since they went out of their way to avoid the whole region! Philip, a man of faith and powerful action, was one of these religious refugees, and he brought the message of Jesus with him into Samaria. He was a walking, talking representative of Jesus Christ and of the kingdom of God, and many in Samaria turned to Christ when they heard Philip's words and saw the supernatural work of God at work through him.
God had a plentiful harvest waiting in Samaria, and Philip, the persecuted refugee, was His instrument to bring in that harvest. The "unworthy" Samaritans turned out to be the very ones God was bringing into His kingdom! I wonder what "untouchable" or "unworthy" people are awaiting the gospel around me. Who do the religious people avoid that Jesus has nevertheless been preparing to receive the good news of the kingdom of God? How do "Samaritans" look in my day and in my town? Do they wear Broncos Orange or Seahawk Green/Blue or do they represent something else entirely?
The Super Bowl reminds me that the gospel of the kingdom of God still supersedes our cultural boundaries today, and that the people who call Jesus their Lord and Savior carry a unique message that brings hope to every "Samaritan." I think this might even mean that Jesus could save Broncos fans. (Sorry, Broncos fans, I know that was a low blow. But it was funny.) Maybe we should plant a church in Denver someday. Would I have to wear orange? I could probably learn to like orange. (Sorry, fellow Seahawks, now I've managed to offend you too!)