I have not had much time to blog in the last weeks. I am back to taking two classes in the summer quarter and also have been a bit distracted by a small event called the World Cup. This is a time when men become boys and re-connect with their secret dream of being a footballer. This is especially true for this boy who grew up in the soocer-crazed nation of Brazil. So, most certainly I could not let this opportunity past without a blog (or a few blogs).
I write this as we (the Brazilian nation) have just reached the semi-finals after a grueling and agonizing game against Colombia. The biggest news was the unfortunate injury of Neymar after receiving a UFC-like knee kick to the back. Yet, this should not take away from the biggest name of the game: David Luiz. The guy was a giant on the field. A defender that not only did his job but also scored, helping Brazil advance. If you know anything about soccer you know that defenders are not expected to score – their primary job is to keep others from scoring. His footballing performance would be enough to gain acclaim. Yet most important than his performance is how this formidable athlete has behaved inside and outside the pitch.
It is not uncommon to see athletes thanking God for their triumphs. This is not just only common in the US but more and more in places like Brazil. His words, however, are only limited to the audience that bothers to listen to after-match interviews. His actions on the field have spoken louder than words. In the beginning of the game, at the end and after each goal celebration you can see David kneeling with his eyes closed pointing to the sky. His body language is un-mistakable – he is praying.
So a great athlete that performs well, gives glory to God and publicly prays. Again, that would be more than enough to catch our attention. David went a step further. After the game with Colombia, he took upon himself to console James Rodriguez, the Colombian forward. He asked his Brazilian crowd to applaud his effort. Then, he just held him in his arms as the young player sobbed the pain of his defeat.
In a few weeks, the Cup will be over and life will be back to normal. But inspired in David’s example, I wonder how I have live the gospel within the soccer field of my life. Do I always give glory to God when I perform well? Do people know that the source of anything good in my life is the time I spent with God in prayer? Above all, do I show compassion to adversaries and lend them a shoulder for them to cry? Let life imitate sports and let visible athletes teach us again what it means to follow Christ in a public way. David has showed us that at time the gospel of Christ can be best displayed not by what we say but how we live. This is not borne out of a conscious effort to “spread the gospel.” Instead, is the fruit of a life surrendered to God and attentive to the neighboor.