Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hope, the Seahawks, and the Son of God

Two weeks ago, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks. MY TEAM. It still hasn't quite sunk in. For two whole weeks, "whatever, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl" has been my answer for everything that goes wrong. It's surreal!

But if I'd predicted four years ago that the Seattle Seahawks would be winning the Super Bowl, even the most rabid fan would have cast me a skeptical look.

You have to know the Seahawks of the last few years to understand how it feels. I'm no fairweather fan. I complimented a guy for his Seahawks jersey the other day and heard someone else mutter "bandwagoner". I turned straight to the guy with a big smile and said "Hey dude...I stuck it out through 2009." I've earned my status as a faithful fan, trust me.

For the uninitiated now going "Ohh great, he's about to start talking football", I'll keep it simple. By the end of the 2008 season, the Seahawks were in bad shape. They'd finished with a 4-12 record, the league's fourth worst team. This was a relatively young team, a baby of the seventies and not one of the classic teams from the baby boom era, and one that had suffered many years of indignity and loss (aka the nineties). Our only Super Bowl appearance in 2005 - well, just ask any fan about that one. For the Seattle faithful, defeat and artful cynicism were a way of life.

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and your sins." (Ephesians 2:1)

But optimistic fans looked at the previous five seasons, all of which saw Seattle reaching the playoffs and even the Super Bowl, and hoped that 2008 was just an aberration. An off year. They blamed it on the spate of injuries (there were quite a few) and a coach who was retiring. They believed that with a couple good strong players from the draft, and a good performance from the new coach - who had been groomed under the same administration that got us to the Super Bowl - we could regain our playoff form.

Football fans. We're a hopeless gaggle of blind hope.

2009 was an even greater disaster. Despite finishing with five wins instead of four, the Seahawks were awful. It was apparent that our problems ran deeper than injuries. That team that almost won it all in 2005 had simply gotten old. The quarterback needed replacing. The star linebacker we'd drafted didn't last two years with the team. The defense turned out to be worse than we'd thought, exposed by a tougher schedule. So much for reclaiming glory.

"With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last." (Mark 15:37)

It was bad. The team was left with a mix of over-the-hill veterans and mediocre rookies. It was all a shambles, without direction and with an inscrutable future. Years of rebuilding appeared to be in order, and judging from the Cleveland Browns and their perpetual state of rebuilding, that's no ray of hope.

If there was a championship ahead any time soon, Seattle fans at the end of 2009 couldn't see it.

"And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow." (Luke 23:48 NLT)

But then a new coach and GM got a hold of the team, and things started happening. We fans didn't understand at first. Roster moves started happening at a lightning pace. Fan favorites and roster bright spots were traded. Criticism started up immediately. I was among them. I didn't see how cutting our few standout players would help. Oddly enough, they didn't seem to care. They just kept working, doing their thing.

And within three years, the team was utterly transformed. New quarterback, legendary defense, a reputation for physicality and winning the toughest games. In just a few short seasons, far sooner than anyone expected, the Seahawks went from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the heap. We won the Super Bowl. We DOMINATED the Super Bowl. Despite all the pop stars and movie actors who said we they wouldn't.

" are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." (Matthew 28:5-6)

Now we're the envy of the league. Our defense (the "Legion of Boom") is spoken of in the same breath as the legendary NFL defenses of the seventies. Other teams are starting to mimic our drafting strategy. Our roster cuts land starting jobs elsewhere. Not only did we win the big game, we're on top of the league in almost every conceivable category. It's dizzying.

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins...he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities (of evil), he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." (Colossians 2:13-15)


Okay, so the Seahawks really aren't that big a matter. I know some of us almost make football a religion, but honestly, who knows if the Seahawks will even repeat. Their coaches are not God and Peyton Manning is not an authority of evil. It's a metaphor, and a loose one at that.

But if you've seen the bewildered delight of a Seahawks fan lately, you might be able to understand the joy of a Christian. Or at least a tenth of it. Maybe.

You see, in the same way that the Seahawks made a startling turnaround in almost no time at all (in NFL terms), God pulled a 180 in the story of the world. No one quite knows how. The method was completely unexpected for everyone standing there watching the crucifixion. But it worked. Where darkness had reigned, now there was light. Where sin had obscured God from mankind, there was now freedom and reconciliation. Where it looked for three days like Jesus Christ would be killed and thwarted from his goal, he would instead defy death in both himself and in us.

He rose again to offer us life. It's the sweetest 'W' I've ever experienced.

To those I'm welcoming here who used to follow my Seahawks blog (what a waste of time, guys), I want to say this in the instant I have your attention:

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is my Savior, my redeemer, and the friend of anyone who will welcome him. He is a healer, a rescuer, a teacher, an advocate, a comforter, a counselor, and a guide. He mends broken lives. He brings justice to the oppressed. He has concern for the poor. He is a companion to the rejected. And he offers hope - the only hope possible - for all mankind.

And if you have never seen him in this way - well, coming from one who has known him, he is better than you think. I can testify to that. I invite you to follow along on this blog as I do my best to relay who he really is. I'll even challenge you to suspend some of the things you might have heard about him secondhand from the world, or about the Bible that tells us of him. All I ask is that we be courteous and open-minded here. I'm convinced you won't regret it.

For those of you who do know Jesus, live it up! We have the victory. We have reason to celebrate.

And although the Seahawks may or may not repeat next year, you know Jesus has an even greater victory on the way. No fluke championships here.

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