ad maiorem dei gloriam
CNN.com posted an interesting little piece on athletes giving glory to God for their accomplishments. The piece is very balanced, raising questions like: Should athletes give glory to God for allowing them pummel their opponent senseless in the ring? Does Jesus give the victory to the person on the field who has the most faith? Is the signal of praise to God done by the athlete given in genuine faith, or is it a branding tool — who actually gets the glory, God or the athlete?
I find it interesting that athletes who deliver such salutes tend to invoke “God” or “Jesus” or “my Lord.” They seem to be referencing some kind of transcendent being who has “phenomenal cosmic power” but “itty-bitty living space” (specifically, in the athletes “heart”).
What is being invoked is a deity who has no relation to the Creator of the heavens and earth, or his Son, who became incarnate, died, rose, and ascended, and is coming again. In other words, is the “Jesus” they are giving credit to the Jesus of the Scriptures? Or a Jesus of personal success and empowerment, an Oprah/Dr. Phil Jesus?
So, when athletes point to the sky, or give “praise to Jesus” for making it to the Super Bowl, is that really evangelism — does it connect people to God’s saving work in Christ? Or encourage people to seek after a God who will give them stuff?
BTW — I’ve never seen the “loser” give glory to Jesus because his words in Mark 8:34-38 have been fulfilled. Or, as Bonhoeffer put it: “The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. … we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. … When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. …death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die…”