Actor and comedian Bob Saget died from accidental head trauma, a Florida medical examiner declared yesterday. “His injuries were most likely incurred from an unwitnessed fall,” according to Dr. Joshua Stephany, who added that no illicit drugs or toxins were found in his system. Mr. Saget was found in his Orlando hotel room by hotel security on January 9 and pronounced dead at the scene.
We also learned yesterday that Prince Charles has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II and Spain’s King Felipe VI announced this week that they also tested positive for the virus.
This news is relevant to Sunday’s Super Bowl in ways that might not be obvious but are deeply significant for our lives today.
Why do we care?
Front row seats at the big game can be yours for $62,095 each. You could buy a thirty-second ad for $6.5 to $7 million. You could star in one of these commercials, but apparently you have to be a superstar celebrity first.
Or you can be one of the one hundred million people who are expected to watch the game in the US. According to the Athletic, only two non-Super Bowl programs—the February 1983 MASH finale and the 1978 Leon Spinks–Muhammad Ali rematch—rank among the all-time top thirty US broadcasts for audience size.
On one level, this is merely a football game. Nothing that happens Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles will resolve the crisis in Ukraine, the truck blockade at the US–Canadian border, or the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On another level, it is an opportunity for football immortality for the winners.
America is a celebrity-driven culture in ways that have only been exacerbated by pandemic quarantines, the explosion of social media, and the proliferation of streaming entertainment. Mr. Saget’s death was tragic, but only one of the 7,708 deaths that occur on average each day in the US. The monarchs who tested positive for COVID-19 are three of the more than 2.5 million confirmed cases each day.
We care about athletes who win championships, celebrities who fall ill or die, actors who are nominated for Oscars, and singers who win music awards because many of us live vicariously through them.
Why is this?
How to “live peaceably with all”
This week, I’ve been discussing the significance and implications of Christians’ status as the “children of God.” We have noted that we are loved passionately and unconditionally by our Father and thus called and privileged to love our fellow Christians and those outside the faith as our Father loves us.
Let’s close with this fact: When we truly believe that we are who God says we are, we find peace the world can neither give nor take and significance that lasts forever.
Many of us fixate on athletes and celebrities because our secularized culture has conditioned us to measure success by popularity, performance, and possessions. But all three are fleeting. Just ask any former celebrity, retired athlete, or now-bankrupt former billionaire. Then consider the presidents and kings, athletes and tycoons who now own the same six feet of dirt that will be yours and mine one day (if the Lord tarries).
Now decide that you want to define yourself as God defines you. Decide that your status and identity as the child of God is the foundational fact about you. Decide that there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or less than he already does. Decide that you therefore need nothing the world can give or take, that you are a child of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now you are free to love others whether they love you or not. You are free to serve Jesus whether the world rewards you or punishes you for your service.
You can “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14). You can “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (v. 15). You can “live in harmony with one another” and “associate with the lowly” (v. 16). You can “repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (v. 17). And, “If possible, so far as it depends on you,” you can “live peaceably with all” (v. 18).
Imagine a world where everyone did this. Or a country, a state, a city, a community, or a family. Or a single Christian.
Why not you? Why not today?
Galaxies in the eye of a needle
Philip Yancey writes: “Scientists now believe that if you had unlimited vision, you could hold a sewing needle at arm’s length toward the night sky and see ten thousand galaxies in the eye of the needle. Move it an inch to the left and you’d find ten thousand more. Same to the right, or no matter where else you moved it. There are approximately a trillion galaxies out there, each encompassing an average of one hundred to two hundred billion stars.”
If Jesus is your Lord, you are the child of the God who made all of that.
Now, what’s your problem?