Thousands of people congregate in large Cathedral-like buildings. They sing their songs and anthems. Banners are unfurled, white flags with red crosses flutter in the breeze. The worship begins as the players run onto the field of play at the start of the match. According to the great Bill Shankly, "Some people think football's a matter of life and death. I can assure them it is much more serious than that". What can be more serious than life and death? Heaven and hell? Football is some religion!
It is shame that football has become a religion because I don't much care for religion. Religion is all about going to hallowed places, keeping the rules and observing the sacred rituals. Religion is an expression of the primitive human need to reach out and touch the divine. But religion is an utter failure. No one has ever achieved the goal of finding God by religion. At least England won the World Cup once!
Christianity is not a religion. It is more serious and glorious than that. The Bible teaches that human beings have broken God's laws and failed to truly seek him. We have put other things, like football in the place of Almighty God. We deserve the red card, to be sent off and punished for our sins. But God sends a substitute to bear our punishment. That substitute is Jesus, the Son of God. He died on the cross fin the place of sinners, that we may be forgiven. Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship with God that is real, satisfying and everlasting.
I am not a prophet, so I don't know if this England team will repeat the success of 1966. Will the gods of English football prevail or be defeated? Who can tell? But if you trust Jesus to put you right with God, you will be on the victory side.