Two teams will take the filed this Sunday in a quest to take home a trophy. This is not just any trophy; this is the Lombardi Trophy.
There is a great two part special on Vince Lombardi. It airs on the NFL Network. It tells the story of a young Italian football player who put aside fears. failures, and racism, to become one of the most recognizable names in all of football.
Like all great people, he is amazingly complex. How does a man who felt called to the priesthood become a coach? How can a man who attended mass 365 days a year, also become a man who was feared by opponents and team mates alike? How could a man who was a leader of men struggle to love his wife and had a daughter who hid in the basement when he came home?
Lombardi's quest for greatness was attained. His Green Bay Packers won five NFL titles in nine years. He won the first two Super Bowls. His "coaching tree" had broad limbs and deep roots.
All of that came at a great price. Like a President of the United States, he aged before our eyes. A fit muscular frame was replaced by a fragile physique which was limited by pain and ulcers. It took it's toll at home. His wife became an alcoholic to cope with long periods of rejection and loneliness.
Vince Lombardi is famously quoted for saying: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."
Fast forward 46 years. Mark Driscoll is a famous pastor in Seattle. He interviewed some Seattle Seahawks and asked them this question: "Who is Jesus?" A coach named Rocky Seto said that Jesus is better and bigger than the Super Bowl. Those of us who are theologians might answer: "Well, of course He is!" But in a football crazed culture like ours, it is good to hear someone with a little perspective. They joked of cutting that from the video. His reply? "Hopefully we will win and I will still say: "Jesus is still bigger and better than the Super Bowl."
The best line of the video was from Driscoll however. He said: "We give Jesus our worst and we get back His best."
Vince Lombardi gave the NFL his best. He received a lot in return; but he also paid a heavy price.
When we come to Jesus we give Him our worst. We give Him our sin and failures and disappointments and we get love and grace and mercy in return. As a good friend of mine said: "You can't out give God"
I would never minimize the importance of winning or excellence. Playing or working without passion and a desire to win does not bring glory to God.
It is nice to know; however, that there are people on the field Sunday who understand that there is a bigger prize to be won.