October 21, 2013

Introducing the Why

Super Bowl III was over before it started: the Colts were going to stampede Gang Green like grass beneath the weight of powerful hooves.

Just a few years before, the United States’ two professional football leagues, the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL), had agreed to merge, forming American football as we know it today. At the time, the AFL teams and players were regarded as second-class citizens. The notion was only strengthened as the NFL’s Green Bay Packers soundly defeated their AFL opponents in the first two Super Bowls.

New faces were on the scene for Super Bowl III in Miami, including Johnny Unitas, superstar quarterback of the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. But it was the opposing quarterback who made headlines three days before kickoff.

The nickname Broadway Joe described New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath to a T. Young, charming, brash, and irreverent, Namath was one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Thursday night before the big game the Miami Touchdown Club honored Namath as its player of the year. As he accepted the award, a Colts fan began taunting him. Namath had heard enough about his opponent.

“Whoa, wait a minute. You guys have been talking for two weeks now, and I’m tired of hearing it,” Namath shot back. “I’ve got news for you. We’re gonna win the game. I guarantee it.”

The next morning Namath’s face—with his bold guarantee—was on the front page of every newspaper in the United States. Most pundits chided the guarantee as horribly misplaced bravado; Namath’s own teammates even thought he’d lost it.

However, as the final horn sounded on Super Sunday, Broadway Joe had the last laugh as the scoreboard read: Jets 16, Colts 7.

The Guarantee

Be honest: Who gets more attention in your everyday life, God or His opponent?

I know, you have the Ellen G. White app on your iPhone, date night with your spouse is Wednesday night prayer meeting, and the pastor is coming over for lunch on Sabbath between church and afternoon outreach, right? I mean, you’re reading the Adventist Review right now, which is certainly a magazine about God. Of course He gets more of your attention.

Look at it another way: When it comes to the greatest battle of your life, is that still true? Does God still get more of your focus? Or do you feel suffocated by the devil’s nagging taunts? In theory we each believe our Savior is stronger, but do we act like it? In moments of truth I’ve noticed that I tend to dwell on how powerful Satan is and how weak I am. Maybe you can relate.

If this has been your experience, I’m here to say that we don’t have to be bullied by sin.

The Christian world places so much emphasis on the cross. Rightfully so—it’s the foundation of forgiveness and the hope for eternal life. But Jesus came to this world both to die and to live for us, which largely gets lost today. Here’s what Ellen White wrote:

“Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then . . . He could not have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. If we have in any sense a more trying conflict than had Christ, then He would not be able to succor us. But our Savior took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of [humanity], with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured.”* 

Jesus Christ came to earth with a human nature and gained victory over sin. He did this so that we might have the power to “die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). When we put our focus on Him, victory is possible.

He guaranteed it.  

* Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898) p. 117.