Brother Against Brother

As seemingly everyone in the world knows by now, two brothers coached against each other in last night’s Super Bowl game in New Orleans. Much was made of this in the ramp-up to the game, of course, even including the parents of John and Jim Harbaugh in the festivities and media events that saturate the week before the game. In fact, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh were the first ever parents of coaches in a Super Bowl to know going in to the game that they were guaranteed that their son would win the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, however, they were also guaranteed that their son would lose the most popular sporting event in America. That is the kind of tension that family brings to an event. Brother against brother was not just true of the Civil War—with all its devastating implications. It was true of Super Bowl XLVII. One brother would be a hero of the football world. The other would be just another loser.

This kind of competitive tension has existed between brothers ever since the very first set of brothers to appear in the history of the world, Cain and Abel. Their competition, however, was not played out on the field of sports, but rather in the arena of worship. And, theirs was not the last biblical competition between brothers. Esau and Jacob. Amnon and Absalom. Joseph against his eleven brothers. The pages of the Bible seem to support the cynical quote, “The dream that all men should live as brothers is held by men who have no brothers.”

But it need not be so. Peter and Andrew were brothers, and so were James and John—and those brothers went from being partners in a Galilean fishing business to be numbered among the first followers of Christ. Their example of a unified heart around a worthy mission can encourage us. As the psalmist David said, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) And that unity among brothers (be they actual brothers or spiritual brothers) is infinitely more important than any football game. Even the Super Bowl.

 

Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain