What comes to mind when you hear “The NFL”: Is it the Light of Jesus Christ?

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine among men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

In the last few seconds of last Thursday night’s NFL matchup between the Browns and the Steelers, Browns defensive player Myles Garrett tackled Steeler quarterback Mason Rudolph. It wasn’t the ensuing brawl that shocked the nation. It was what happened as the players were getting up off the ground. Garrett actually pulled Rudolph’s helmet off and came down on his head full force with it, using it as a weapon.

The article ‘How much damage can a helmet do to a head?’, the author explains why people witnessing this event were so horrified by Garrett’s actions: “If Garrett had hit Rudolph with the crown of the helmet or on a different part of his head, it could have cracked his skull, or even worse. ‘He could have killed him,’ Maurice Pouncey, Rudolph’s said. ‘What if he’d hit in him the temple?’

For many who fight back against the idea that a football helmet can be a weapon, former Giants offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz had a response for them: “Head over to the nearest sporting goods store and buy a helmet. Go to the nearest gym and find the strongest dude. Then stand there while he takes his best swing with that helmet at your head. Let me know if it’s a weapon or not afterwards.”

In the last few years, the NFL’s brand has been tarnished in the eyes of many Americans. But that might be because of how the media portrays the NFL to the public. Is there more to the NFL than what we have been shown? Nick Foles, Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles offer a completely different picture of the NFL. It is a message of hope that touches every person: abundant life beyond the football field and beyond this life. It’s the message of eternal life in Jesus Christ, and they are not shy to share it.

“Nick Foles is the real deal — an authentic Christian who has a contagious love for Christ and for others,” Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich told The Washington Post in a text message. When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, head coach Doug Pederson told the media who gets the credit for what they just achieved:

“I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity.”

The Christian Broadcasting Network explained in a recent October article how the light of Jesus Christ shines so brightly within this NFL football team: “Similar thoughts were expressed by one team member after another throughout the year, as the Eagles defied major setbacks and a steady stream of voices insisting they wouldn’t beat a team as strong as the New England Patriots. But then they did. And instead of allowing themselves to be hailed as gods by a green-blooded fan base in Philly, the Eagles’ top performers are pointing to the God they worship on and off the field, win or lose.”

Team chaplain Ted Winsley spoke with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association 6 days before the Super Bowl, saying it started long before that season:

“‘With the Philadelphia Eagles, there has been a Christian culture—strong, I would say—since the days of Reggie White.’ Then Carson Wentz and Nick Foles joined forces in the 2017 season, flanked by a faithful head coach and many other believers on the team.”

Winsley says the culture of the Eagles began to soar to new heights: “Players who weren’t living for God watched the lives of those who were. They observed men who weren’t perfect but who lived out their faith. And they wanted to be part of what they saw. Sunday chapel services filled up. Weeknight Bible studies swelled to 30+ people. Baptisms were held in cold tubs and even in a hotel pool in Charlotte, NC.”

In our verse for this week, Jesus Christ Himself, in His famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ speech, explains what happens in a culture when those who follow Jesus Christ allow Him to shine brightly in and through their lives. Others will want what they have, and God Himself is glorified as others are drawn to Him. As Chaplain Winsley says above, when they

“watched the lives of those who were living for Christ, who weren’t perfect but who lived out their faith, they wanted to be part of what they saw.”

Carson Wentz, with his ministry ‘Audience of One’, puts it like this: “I think it’s two-fold. I think when you’re sharing the gospel, you’re verbally sharing, expressing who Christ is but also, so many people’s lives are changed because of how you live! Because of how you walk it out! We always want to tangibly bless somebody with an opportunity, with food, with something unique that will fix a physical need but a spiritual need at the same time. That what it’s all about.” This is the Matthew 5:16 live, for all to see, in the NFL!

The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #375

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