Cultural Commentary: Favre signing with Vikings- Symbolic of Hope and Conciliation

Symbol of Hope and Conciliation

Symbol of Hope and Conciliation

This writer enjoys watching the sport of football. I live in the Twin Cities and the team I root for as a fan is the Minnesota Vikings. The ongoing saga of whether Brett Favre would or wouldn’t sign with the Vikings was a drawn out soap opera with the fans hope that if he signs, perhaps he can guide the team to the promised land of the Super Bowl and a long desired and lacked Championship. His finally signing with the Vikings generated two things among Vikings fans, Hope and Ambivalence. As already stated, the hope is a competent and Hall of Fame Quarterback is the only piece missing for a championship run. The ambivalence comes from the fact that Brett Favre was a member of the enemy for sixteen years. He was the focal point of the team Vikings fans hate the most and care more about whether we win or lose. It is hard to root for one who was once considered the enemy.

The reader may respond with a thought such as “That is well and good and pretty straight forward. So what.” Or “Since this is a blog focusing on Christianity, Life, and Culture what on earth does Favre to do with anything other than drawing hits.” Well, football in general is a game that is rich with symbolism that can be used to illustrate matters of success, faith, and development. The latest result of the saga that is Brett Favre’s career is no different. Clearly there is the nature of hope. We want to hope, we desire hope, we want to feel good. We affiliate with a team for reasons such as proximity and the results impact our mood and culture. Brett Favre brings hope to a community that there is a chance for better. A chance that the desire for the team we cheer for to achieve ultimate success. Yet, there is much more to success than Brett Favre being a successful, healthy Quarterback. Yet, the hope is strong.

A rather harder concept to grasp is that of conciliation. There are fans that do not embrace the hope because of the fact they still consider Brett Favre the enemy. He won the Superbowl and had much success with the Green Bay Packers. Success that is both envied and disdained. Yet, now their past key star player is now a member of the Minnesota Viking. Yet, there is something within us that will struggle to accept the one who was an enemy now being a key part of the team. It does not sit well emotionally, leading to ambivalence.

Now the truth is the hope represented in Brett Favre is fleeting and temporary. The Minnesota Vikings may succeed, they may fail, and they may be mediocre. The hope may be well founded or prove to be false. Brett Favre after all is a human with limitations and it takes more the Brett Favre to achieve success. As a Christian though, I know that hope that does not disappoint exists. This hope is found in the person of Jesus the Messiah. This hope is found in the message of the Gospel that it is not about being “good enough” to be in relationship with the Creator of the Universe, but rather accepting the gift of redemption and turning from self. The true hope rests in that which lasts for eternity, not for a fleeting moment such as winning a championship. I hope Brett Favre and the Vikings win it all, yet their success or lack of success will have nothing to do with my eternal prospects. It will not impact my source of peace or joy, unless I focus on self and not on the certainty of Jesus.

The harder concept to grasp is the concept of conciliation. It is difficult to accept that Brett Favre is no longer considered an enemy. It is difficult to cheer for one that used to jeer. It actually is rather surreal to see Brett Favre in the purple and gold. Yet, each one of us at one point or another was an enemy of God. Each of us had to make a choice to sign on, and to turn from our past enmity. Now for some people the choice comes easily. It is a decision simply known to be right. Other people may hem and haw and have difficulty turning from self and joining God’s team. Many simply reject the offer to join the team TJ Houshmandzadeh. Now some people readily rejoice over Brett Favre joining the Vikings, others simply have stronger reactions. In thinking about the conciliation Vikings fans face with Brett Favre, my mind goes to the Apostle Paul. He was a man who was clearly an enemy to the Church. He killed many, many people. Yet, God transformed this man from a murderous zealot to a key Apostle who served to spread the Gospel and was used to write the majority of the New Testament text. So when I think of Brett Favre as a Minnesota Viking, it serves as a picture of each of our coming to peace with God once we accept the offer of salvation through Jesus the Messiah and turn from our way, to God’s way.

Hopefully you find these thoughts to be helpful and challenging. In order to reach conciliation from God it is never too late. The Hope of that does not fail that is found in what Jesus did to remove the enmity and establish peace with God. I am grateful I am able to join God’s team. On God’s team there is no fleeting reward but eternal. The hope is sure and sound. So if you are not yet signed up to be in God’s team and kingdom, please consider the possibility.

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Lessons from a game called werewolf/mafia:

Lessons from a game called werewolf/mafia:

 

            Over the past three four years one of the ways I engaged in entertaining and distracting myself is a game called werewolf, also known as mafia.  It is a game about deception.  Basically there is a team of bad guys trying to deceive others and folks who are trying to figure out who the deceivers are.  This post isn’t about the dynamics of the game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(game) but some important lessons that can be learned.

            One important lesson is that no one is beyond being deceived. The most skilled people at spotting varied ‘tells’ or spotting the deceivers can fail or falter. No one is beyond being deceived by someone else or even themselves.  In applying this lesson, we each need to be aware and acknowledge that no one is beyond deception.. Anyone that thinks they are beyond being deceived is fooling themselves.  We need to continually engage in prayerful self-examination and ask God to show us the ways we have been deceived and to show us truth. 

            Another important lesson is that people prefer to follow.  I have seen this play out on numerous occasions. As soon as someone displays proficiency at finding the deceivers, others tend to follow them.  It is much easier to follow then to examine facts and details and search for the truth on your own. If someone exhibits apparently greater skills it is much easier to follow rather then examine facts for yourself. It works out well when the person is right but when the person is wrong, the results are not satisfactory and often assist those looking to deceive.   

In applying this  lesson to life and exposing deception we need to be willing to examine and test things on our own. We need to not just simply trust the words or actions of others, no matter how often they have display accuracy.  Blindly following others is detrimental, particularly if a person relies on others for the word of God and not spending time spending time and studying the Word.  Also if we spend more time reading Christian authors and others interpretations of the word, we leave our self vulnerable to be deceived or follow error.

Another important lesson is that the greater the distractions, the easier it is to be deceived. Time and time again I witnessed where people couldn’t sort through multiple information even when there were clues to what is true and what is false. The simple application to this lesson is the greater amount of distractions; the harder it is to assess truth.

            A surprising but important lesson is that when looking for deception it is easy to become paranoid. This means we can easily see lies and deception in people that are being truthful.  Now while such paranoia can make for interesting game play, in life it makes  things confusing.  God doesn’t offer confusion but we can sure generate a lot of it on our own doing. Given how easy it is to become paranoid this stress the importance of depending on God and leaning not on our own understanding. We can easily find lies and deception where there is none, just as much as we can fall prey to lies and deception. The enemy loves when we do become paranoid and find lies in the truth.

            In watching multiple games played out another sure lesson is that deceivers have no problem ‘eating their own.’   In order to gain trust, exposing someone else engaging in deception can be a way to gain trust and greater deceive others.  The last game I actually played, it was done to perfection when one member of the team of deceivers was exposed after another with even easily sorted out lies being spoken ultimately resulting in trust for one person who ended up winning the game.  Such tactics breed pride and over-confidence as well as stimulating trust. So while “the house” may be “divided against itself” the goal is to lay ground work for other lies or deceptions to be accepted or a deceiver to be trusted. In our lives, we need constant evaluation and with the light of scripture. We need to test all things continually and be wary. 

            The last lesson I want to discuss is that any time someone discovers a tell or a pattern to sort out the deceptions in the game, once the deceivers are aware the deceptions and game play the strategies and lies adjust to take them into account.  If lies always followed the same pattern, they can be easy to spot, but eventually there comes a time when what you used to rely on is ineffective.  Of course, with God, His discernment is always accurate, and always ahead of the enemy.  For each of us though, of our own strength and power, it is easy to be deceived and trust others based on confidence in a “technique” or “test.”  The enemy is crafty, and will adjust!

            There are probably more lessons I can take from the game but the essential point is we are all easily deceived and of our own effort finding and exposing deceptions is ultimately impossible. Our enemy, Satan, is the master of deception. Each of these things I have observed about deception is but a drop in the bucket of Satan’s tools.  We need to live in surrender and dependence to God, we need to repent of relying on our own strength, we need to Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, we need constant exposure to the Word of God, and we need to the grace of Jesus the Messiah to cleanse us from our self-effort and failures.  May we all grow in truth and be sober and alert lest we become embroiled in deception.