Dear. Mr. Lewis
First, congratulations on winning your second super bowl. Your team played great.
Second, I also appreciate how you seek to give God glory through your words after the victory, as I have also heard you do after other games. I know there are some who hold your past against you and deem you a hypocrite; I am not one of them. If I didn’t believe people could be fully forgiven I wouldn’t be in the ministry. So kudos for that.
But here’s my problem. When asked about how your team won, you quoted Romans 8:31 –“If God is for us, who can be against us”. Great verse, but can we talk about your exegesis (interpretation) of it for a minute? I only ask because 150 million people watched that game, and most of them heard your comments. It would be a shame for them to get the wrong idea of what that verse means, wouldn’t it?
Let me just say upfront that this verse is not a promise that if God is for us we will succeed in winning football games, or winning at anything else (career, relationships, financial struggles). I’m sure (or at least I hope) you do not believe that God is with you more than he is with the opposing team. Right? But how many people will hear you quote that verse (when you are asked why you won) and conclude that since they themselves are not winning in their own lives, then God must not be for them?
You see, this verse follows hard after verses 28-29 of that chapter, and doesn’t make sense without it:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, that He might be the first-born among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called, and those He called he also justified, and those he justified he also glorified. What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
You see, the context of the promise [that God is with us is] is the goal of all God’s work: to make us like Christ. The apostle is not saying that if God is with us then no other team can defeat us, or no problem plague us; his point is that His good purpose to make us like Christ cannot be hindered by any adversary or any problem or painful circumstance. In fact, any opposition or problem becomes a tool He uses; they are a chisel in the hands of the master sculpture, as he fashions each believer into an image that is paradoxically both unique and Christ-like.
If this is God’s purpose then, it is easy to conceive how a defeat in the big game might do more to further that (by slaying our pride and self-confidence) than a victory. But that is His call. He alone has wisdom to know what we need; it is His hand that holds the chisel.
So again, congratulations, and thank you for seeking to honor God and not yourself in your victory. But if by any slight chance you read this, consider whether He might not be more honored if your audience heard that His plan is infinitely greater than to help you win a super bowl.