By Marc Wyatt
1 Corinthians 9:19-23The Message (MSG)
19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
It’s FIFA World Cup 2014.
The FIFA World Cup™ is the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world and is participated in by the men’s national teams from the 208 Global Member Associations. FIFA has lofty objectives – to touch the world, develop the game, and build a better future through cooperation and competition.
A pastor friend of mine recently posted an interesting question to his Facebook friends asking if anyone was watching the World Cup in Brazil, adding a ‘yawn’ to spark debate. Several equally sleepy responses came.
One however stated, ‘Killer ending to the US vs. Portugal match – just killer! Sorry you ain’t got the fever. I’m burning up baby!!!!!’
To this he responded, ‘A team you like wins or loses…what difference does it make? I’ll not get emotionally worked up about small things such as sporting events.’
What difference does it make?
Well, The FIFA World Cup is the world’s most widely-viewed sporting event; an estimated 715.1 million people watched the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup held in Germany and the 2010 event in South Africa was broadcast to 204 countries on 245 different channels. Inside the stadiums, a total of 3,170,856 spectators attended the 64 matches an average of 49,670 per match and the third highest aggregate attendance behind USA 1994 and Germany 2006.
Let’s put that in perspective.
This year’s Super Bowl matchup between the Seahawks and Broncos was seen by 111.5 million people. Super Bowl XLVI between the New York Giants and New England Patriots was previously the most-watched game in the history of the NFL. It drew an average of 111.3 million people.
The World Cup however has 600 million more fans than America’s biggest sporting event – 600 million more or nearly twice the population of the United States.
American Christians might just be missing a grand opportunity to get to know their international neighbors. The world is watching the World Cup. Ask any missionary who has lived abroad and they will tell you – the opportunity to share the Gospel comes usually wrapped in the hospitality and friendship entrusted by your foreign host. In our American context we are the host. Maybe we should consider that before yawning at what the world is interested in.
Want to get to know that international family in your neighborhood, student or co-worker who isn’t a Christian?
Stop yawning and do something about it.
Ask him over to watch the World Cup and serve BEEF BBQ and TOMATO-BASED baked beans. Although it tastes great, pork is about as offensive to most foreign born non-Christians as soccer is boring to many Super Bowl fans. The next two World Cups will be hosted by Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) places that seem to show up regularly on nightly news and political conversations.
Wonder who’s praying for those folks – yawn?
Kim and Marc Wyatt serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel. The Wyatt’s share the love of Christ with refugees, immigrants, internationals in academic settings and among trafficked people.