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The Word on the Week

The Beautiful Game

The name was first attributed to Pele the Brazilian football star of yesteryear but made popular by Stuart Hall in his commenting on soccer matches. When played by two evenly matched professional teams it can certainly live up to that description.

This week marks the commencement of the World Cup a tournament which brings the best sides in the world together every four years. The host country for the competition is keenly contested as enormous prestige comes with holding the event.

This time around it is the turn of Brazil. The country has been preparing the stadiums and infrastructure for a long time. This has incurred costs which have created tension as available resources have been directed away from welfare projects into sporting facilities. However Brazilians are passionate about their football (they have won the World Cup five times) and it is reckoned that the hardships endured will be forgotten as soon as their team takes to the pitch.

A global audience is ensured as over 200 national teams commence the elimination stages of the competition three years ago. This fires interest in the event till it peaks at the final when it is reckoned that one ninth of the world’s population tune in to the match.

The final 32 teams have travelled to Brazil and have been grouped into eight groups of four teams each. All teams play 3 games in this preliminary stage the winners and runners up then drawn against each other in the knockout stage to produce a winner in approximately four weeks time.

There will be plenty of football widows over the next month!

What has the Bible to say to all this?

Athletic prowess featured in Scripture and in particular in the writings of St Paul. In his advice to young Timothy he contrasted physical training which he reckoned to be of some value with training in “godliness which is of value in every way, as it holds promise for this present life and also for the life to come” (Chapter 4 verse 8).

He expanded on this by describing the Christian who has been cleansed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit as someone who knows contentment (chapter 6 verse 6). All of this stems from faith in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, writes St Paul, enabling us to have peace with God (Romans Chapter 5 verse 1).

The danger is, as it was then, that we train for the physical but neglect the spiritual. Getting the balance right will not just get you through the next month but will serve you well for this life and the next.