Well the big day is almost upon us! Which team are you backing: Ravens or 49ers? The upcoming Super Bowl promises to be a great game, and fans on both sides are already claiming the championship. There is nothing quite so sweet as sitting on the edge of your seat through a close, well fought game and having your side seize victory in the final seconds!
It’s a high that’s hard to explain and we’ve all seen clips of joyous fans jumping, screaming, crying, dancing, hugging strangers etc., enjoying the thrill of the victory celebration. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen the controlled pandemonium of celebration turn ugly and destructive as fans careen out of control. How can the intensity of victory that feels so good, so easily turn into vandalism and violence that are the very antithesis of celebration?
We don’t have to look very far for examples. Last February 1, 2012 at a soccer match in Port Said, Egypt, a brawl broke out between opposing fans and players. When it was all over the stadium looked more like a battlefield than a sports arena, with 73 people dead and over 1000 injured.
This past October 29, fans celebrating the San Francisco Giants World Series championship, rioted burning vehicles, starting fires and smashing store windows. The ensuing violence and vandalism resulted in over 3 dozen arrests.
And who can forget Brian Stow, the 42-year-old Giants fan, who was beaten unconscious and left severely brain-damaged after the opening game between the Dodgers and Giants in March 2011?
Team sports have been described as situations of “controlled aggression” in which as fans, we personally identify with the rivalry and the outcome of victory or defeat. Victory gives us a sense of competence and power, and defeat leaves us with feelings of vulnerability and loss. When our team wins, we want to leverage the power of our victory and “lord it over” those who have been defeated. We feel superior and entitled to these spoils of victory, but frequently the defeated fans resist us and fight back.
There seems to be a fine dividing line between power that wants to celebrate and power that seeks to spoil and destroy. World War II General Douglas MacArthur recognized this when he said: “Give me a man who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.”
Father God desires for us to experience a sense of victory when we face challenges in our personal lives. Romans 8:37 tells us, “The One who loves us gives us overcoming victory in all these difficulties.” But Father God is also aware of how the power of victory can have both a positive and negative attraction.
He cautions us against the spoils of victory in Proverbs 16:32, “The person that rules his own spirit is more mighty than the person who conquers a city.” Jesus gave us this instruction on how to use the power of victory, “The person who would be the greatest among you must become the servant of everyone.” True victory is displayed in using our power to benefit other people, rather than attempting to spoil and discredit them.
Come join us this Sunday at 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM. We are starting a new series, “The Victorious Church,” and we will be discussing how to walk in the power of true victory.