The Goodness of Victory
The Who Dat buzz is still humming, albeit a bit softer now. Mardi Gras has ended and the French Quarter vibe is a little slower, but we can rest assured that even though the celebrating is diminished, it is not over.
Several of us in our fellowship along with thousands of other eager fans attended the historic Saints Superbowl Victory parade in the city to relish in a long-awaited and significant triumph. Marching bands, brightly lit floats and wall to wall black and gold shirts filled the sidewalks and curbs and barricades held in the masses of onlookers as the team’s players and coaches rolled out from the Dome to the Convention Center. We finally did it.
In the chill of a uniquely-frigid February evening the city forgot her woes and the sounds of jubilation rang out from every street. It was a bit surreal, not only because of the incredible ending to a miraculous Saints football season, but because of a special unity weaving throughout every social class. It’s as if each person has grabbed on to the hope found in victory and the struggle it takes to achieve it. Even non-football fanatics, like me, are showing up and buying hats and shirts and stickers to join in the first-of-a-lifetime fun; chanting and singing and sitting on our car horns.
Interestingly, concurrent with the feasting and celebrating has been the criticism – criticism of making a big deal out of ‘just a game’ and criticism by believers of making an idol of sports. To the former point, those who claim that our merrymaking is overboard are simply speaking from a foreign hill. They are making observations from a remote tower looking down on something they just don’t understand. The Saints incredible season is a live and direct Rocky and Rudy storyline being acted out before our eyes except that these main characters are not acting. This is not a production based on a true story. This IS the true story – one of sacrifice, regional pride, love for the underdogs, hope amidst trial and devastation, courage, dedication and support. Every final victory you have ever been excited about in any and every story, play or film grew and blossomed for us right before our eyes. This is about a life-long dream finally appearing; why wouldn’t we be feasting?
To the latter point of idolatry, one must back up a few feet. Sure the country is obsessed about many things including sports and sure many in the midst of this Saints ‘madness’ are overly-consumed by professional and collegiate athletics all year long, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any and everyone who loves competition and victory is making it their god. It is the same fallacious argument as saying that if one drinks wine then they are a drunkard. Christ Himself had to deal with the same false accusations when they labeled him a winebibber and a glutton. (Matthew 11:19)
I pray that we recognize that God’s goodness extends to many things both earthly and eternal. Our NFL success is not salvation, but we must be careful not to miss the opportunity to praise Him in all things and that includes great victories.