What is the biggest universal sport? I would say soccer. The one sport that is played in every country on a national stage is soccer. I have had the opportunity to go to several different countries and wherever I go I see soccer being played. They play with a beat-up ball, a can, or anything that they can kick; but it is still the same sport. Though the United States didn’t qualify (that’s a different blog post) and soccer may not be the biggest sport in the United States, however, it is a different story throughout the rest of the world.
The World Cup happens every four years and it may be the biggest event that occurs worldwide. It has been stated that 3.2 billion people tuned in to watch the world cup in 2014 (that’s almost half the world’s population) and you can assume that number is higher with this World Cup. Soccer is an international sport that touches almost every nation despite language barriers and differences. Soccer or “football” as its called in other parts of the world, points to a greater goal (no pun intended) that the Church is called to have. The Church (the global or universal body of followers of Jesus Christ made up of believers throughout history) is called to make disciples of all nations. What do the World Cup and Evangelism Have in Common?
Just like the World Cup is for all to Watch The Christian is to Evangelize to the World.
People from 32 nations traveled to Russia to support their country. It brings together people from each country but yet they are still not united with the rest of the world. Unlike the World Cup and different countries represented to support a team, the Gospel message of hope that is found in Jesus Christ brings the church together in unity. This body of believers is made up of people from different tribes and tongues. From all parts of the globe where we are united in Christ. the Bible reminds us that we are not only saved from sin but also saved to Christ in unity. The Apostle Paul writes, “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ…So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:13, 19 CSB).”
As soccer is watched all around the globe for all people to watch so is the Gospel message. The Gospel is for all people, of all ages, in all countries. It does not matter of one’s social class or background. The Gospel is not about someone’s economic status or political alliance. The good news of Jesus Christ is for all.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he gave the disciples these words of instruction, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20 CSB).” This is the unifying statement of the believer. We are to come together as disciples making disciples of all nations.
Each Team in the World Cup has a Purpose and The Church has a Purpose.
Each team has hopes of taking home the trophy and the title of champion. The church has a purpose too, making disciples! This passage in Matthew is called the Great Commission many think of it as the “great suggestion”. The purpose of the believer is one that has eternal reproductions. We have a message that changes lives. We have true hope that is found in Jesus Christ alone.
Unlike the soccer teams who may lose, there is great news for the church. No matter the hardship or persecution that the church goes through, the church wins. The Christian who is obedient to their purpose and endures wins. The church wins because Jesus Christ is already victorious. We move forward not for victory but from victory in Jesus Christ over sin and death. It is through persecution we see the flame of the Gospel spreading throughout the world. All throughout the New Testament we see that the believer is encouraged to endure through the suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19).
I would be first to say the call of the believer to make disciples of all nations is far greater than a team winning the World Cup. In fact, there are countless men and women who are unknown to the world yet are bold in their faith and being obedient to their calling. Many suffer and are persecuted but they count the cost and see their purpose. They know they have the greater reward where God will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).”
There Will Be Praise at the World Cup but the Gospel Brings a Greater Praise!
As someone scores a goal there are cheers from different races, backgrounds, and continents. There is a greater eternal praise that happens because of our victorious King Jesus. The psalmist writes, “May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Let the whole world sing for joy, because you govern the nations with justice and guide the people of the whole world (Psalm 67:3-4 NLT).” This is the praise that matters that is for all. The Bible also reminds us that there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away (Luke 15:7 NLT)!
The World Cup Will Pass but Jesus is With Us Always!
Soccer can give momentarily happiness or pain (depending if your team wins or losses) but the Gospel message of Jesus Christ is hope for eternity. As Jesus told the disciples and us at the end of Matthew, “And, remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20 CSB), Jesus is with us always!
Yes, the World Cup will come and go every four years yet we have Jesus who is with us forever. Let us have the proper perspective as we go forward each day!