Tonight will draw to a close one of the busiest sports weeks in the history of New Orleans. Last Tuesday night, Michigan defeated Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, then, on Saturday night, the hometown New Orleans Saints defeated the Detroit Lions in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Tonight draws that busy week (and the college football season) to a close with the BCS Championship Game. Much ink has been spilled arguing whether or not LSU and Alabama should meet again in this rematch, and the debate has ranged from outrage against the matchup to resignation over the game to exhilaration for the meeting of, arguably, college football’s top two teams. In the very least, it is an admission that, once again, the SEC is college football’s dominant conference. But the time for all of that debate is over. It’s time to play—and it will be a battle for the national crown. To have a game with so much at stake certainly amps up the significance of the matchup; and it will be fascinating to see if we will have a rematch of the defensive struggle that marked out their first meeting, or if the offenses will break through. Either way, it should be quite a battle.
The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth that followers of Christ are also battling for a crown, but it is a very different battle and a very different crown. He wrote:
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
Using sports as a metaphor for life, the apostle reminds us that at the end of our race is a crown, but not a title that fades away, disappears, gets replaced, or becomes stolen. In a sense, we serve for a crown that will never fade away—a crown that, though received by the people of God, is given in honor of Christ Himself. It could be argued that all of life is a battle—and it is. But as we seek to live for Christ, we can be certain that He will not forget or ignore the faithful service of His children. An imperishable crown will one day, in His presence, bear witness to the fact that the battles of life were worth it.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain