Dr. Doug Posey
With Super Bowl Sunday looming, there’s a story, the source of which I don’t recall (but I found a version on a clean joke site online), that serves as a nice illustration of the topic at hand. It goes like this,
A man receives a free ticket to the Super Bowl from his company. Unfortunately, when he arrives at the stadium he realizes the seat is in the last row in the corner of the stadium...he is closer to the Goodyear Blimp than the field!
About halfway through the first quarter he notices an empty seat 10 rows off the field right on the 50 yard line. He decides to take a chance and makes his way through the stadium around the security guards to the empty seat.
As he sits down, he asks the gentleman sitting next to him, "Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?" The man replies “No." Now, very excited to be in such a great seat for the game, he again inquires of the man next to him, "This is incredible! Who in their right mind would have a seat like this at the Super Bowl and not use it?"
The man replies, "Well, actually, the seat belongs to me, I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super Bowl we haven't been together since we got married in 1967." "Well, that's terribly sad. But still, couldn't you find someone to take the seat? A relative or close friend?" "No," the man replied, "they're all at the funeral.”
The fact that a fan would forego his spouse’s funeral for a seat at the Super Bowl sounds so preposterous it’s hilarious, but tempered a bit by the fact that Super Bowl Sunday is one of the least attended worship services of the year! It unfortunately rivals Father’s Day in low attendance. Both, of course, being regrettable stats.
I know one young associate pastor who had his first preaching opportunity on a Super Bowl Sunday. Afterward, he attended a Super Bowl gathering with a bunch of his church buddies, spouses and families. None of them knew he had preached that morning, because they weren’t there. Their focus was on the other object of American adoration for that first Sunday in February.
Imagine the apostle Paul, keeping the same priorities he had prior to his encounter with Christ. Picture him attempting to continue doing the same things he did before his Damascus road experience, only now he claimed to be a Christ follower. As a Pharisee, he would have been distracted with excelling in keeping the letter of the Law. Striving to appear righteous before men would have been a top priority for Paul, if he hadn’t given Christ His rightful place. Saul of Tarsus would have been rigid in his eating habits, making sure he was strictly kosher. He would have been demanding circumcision for new Gentile believers.
The whole thing about grace vs. law in Galatians and Romans, well that was a far cry from what he was used to. In fact, he would have been so distracted with being a good Jew, while claiming he belonged to Christ, we likely wouldn’t have had most of the epistles of the New Testament, or the churches planted throughout places like Asia Minor. If Paul hadn’t left behind his former life and what as so important to him then, he would have faded into obscurity. So much good theology, gone. Church history, changed forever. But, thankfully, Christ was superior for Paul; superior to all else.
That’s the theme specifically of the letter to the Hebrews. The writer of this letter to the Hebrews made it clear that everything Jews, like Paul, would have held in such high esteem for religious practice took a back seat to Jesus. All their heroes like David, the prophets and Moses—Jesus is superior! Angels are special, they have great powers, Jesus is better! Even the Law itself, Jesus fulfilled it, He supersedes it. In our lives He should supersede everything.
Enjoy the Super Bowl—the nachos, the big screen action, the commercials, the fellowship, the half-time show, but not by forsaking the gathering of believers at church!
“…I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” —PHILIPPIANS 3:8