The NFL, human nature, and theology

Like so many others, I was watching football last night when what clearly appeared to be an interception was ruled a touchdown. The handling of the situation was an utter debacle. Referees who were out of position hesitating to make conflicting calls before declaring that it was a touchdown. it decided the outcome of the game and the officials got it wrong.

Among football fans, on blogs, and through social media, there has been outrage that this could happen.


Because it wasn’t fair. The right thing didn’t happen.

We live in a culture that has a sport obsession and we do not respond well to that which is unfair happening on the playing field. We demand righteousness in the final ruling. We loves justice. And it’s not just limited to sports. Cable news devotes countless hours to high-profile trials, networks air courtroom shows like Judge Judy and Judge Mathis, and we have numerous television dramas that revolve around justice such as Law and Order.

It’s so interesting to me that people become indignant at an injustice in a football game while we find the idea that a morally perfect God could judge us for our sins as being outrageous and offensive.

When compared to God’s standard of moral perfection, we fall short. Do we deserve justice for that? Or should that just be ok?

Let’s take a moment to forget about the good versions of ourselves and think about the darkness in our lives that we’re always trying to hide. Let’s think about our internal conflict between how we act in certain situations, and the version of ourselves who we’re always fighting a war to suppress. Where’s the justice for that? For the wrongs we’ve committed? For the people we are when no one is looking? For the sins for which we were never caught? Where’s our justice?

The logical consequence of our sinful actions – which are our willing rebellion against God’s perfection – is to be separated from God. It’s not because he chooses to be separated from us but because we choose to separate ourselves from Him. The perfection we need is something that we could never attain by our own actions; and despite the fact that we deserve the wrath of God, He made a provision. To quote the author and pastor Tim Keller. “Jesus lived the life we could not live and died the death we should have died.”

Many call Christians arrogant for believing that you must have faith in Jesus to get to God. It’s one of the most fundamental differences between Christianity and other faiths. Most of the world’s religions operate on a sort of moral scale where life is about tipping the scale in your favor by doing more good than bad.

But it’s not about what you do, it’s about who you actually are. In Christianity, it is the idea that we are immoral and that we cannot fix the problem. Christianity isn’t arrogant. The gospel is humbly recognizing the depth of our sins and admitting that we cannot save ourselves.

It is the belief that we could save ourselves by simply doing a few more good deeds which is arrogant.