“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This topic of the World Cup is absolutely right up my street for several reasons: I am a football and World Cup fan because I like the injection of fun and energy it brings; I support both Ghana and England. This year, the win by the England Women’s Euro squad gave some much needed positivity to this country and enhanced the perception of women in sport.
I have reflections on what the verse from Matthew’s Gospel could teach us about competition and loving our ‘enemy’, whether it be the World Cup or any other situation where we are on the ‘other’ side.
Speaking frankly, I could never go as far as loving the Arsenal or Uruguay teams (ref: World Cup 2010 quarter final against Ghana!) BUT I can try harder to respect these teams remembering that God loves all teams regardless of whether I support them or not.
Telling myself that the same passion with which I champion my teams is matched by those who are fans of the other team and realising that we are all more alike than we are different and that God sees us all.
Reminding myself that as Christians and also people of other faiths, we are ultimately part of the same TEAM – the human race and that we must care and love one another, just as the Father loves and cares for us unconditionally regardless of our backgrounds and races.
A final thought is that as individuals who form the human race, we could dial up the positive aspects of sport i.e. healthy competition, the skill and the unity and for this to be the basis of what leads us ultimately to show ‘love’ for one another, both in sport and life.
Awesome God, you give us sport and fitness to enjoy – please help us remember that as we shout, jump and jeer. Thank you for giving us experiences to unite us and remind us of what we have in common. As we look towards the next big competition, we hope for new experiences that express who you made us to be – accepting people who show love and care for one another, regardless of where we come from. Amen
Alexandra Priddy an Elder and Children’s Church Leader at Trinity Mill Hill