Football - A Matter of Life and Death?
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“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that”. The quotation is attributed to Bill Shankly from Glenbuck a small mining village in East Ayrshire, who gained a reputation as one of the best football managers of his generation when in charge of Liverpool FC during the 1960s. Bill Shankly took football seriously and no doubt all managers and players do. Millions of people in many countries are now seriously engaged in supporting their national team in the current World Cup competition. Olympic and other events reveal how seriously sport is taken. It dominates many lives. Business, politics or pleasure dominates the lives of others. So how seriously should football or any lifetime pursuit be taken? The word “lifetime” in that question should help us to answer wisely. It is only during our natural lives that sport, business, politics or whatever else has any relevance or importance. The moment we die these are gone forever. Then what? Does death mean annihilation? The Bible assures us that death is not a final terminus. After death there is judgment (Hebrews 9:27), and there is a place of endless bliss, another of endless woe. Jesus spoke of two men who lived on earth so differently and when time for them ended they reached differing eternal destinies. A rich man found himself in hell of which he said “this place of torment”. Lazarus, a beggar, went to Paradise called “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:19-31). Please do not reject or ignore these solemn truths. Ultimately the matters or activities of life on earth are relatively insignificant. What we ought to be serious about is our eternal destiny, and be sure about it, you do have an eternal destiny. In the sight of a holy God you are a sinner, and your sins if unforgiven will bring you into judgment and eternal torment. But it need not be so, for God in His marvellous grace and rich mercy brings forgiveness and salvation within your reach, secured at infinite cost to Himself through the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary. His motive in the provision of salvation is love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16. Your salvation is what really matters. It is much more important than football, or who wins the World Cup, or anything else for that matter. Be serious about your soul and its eternal destiny. Your soul is precious and nothing has more value to you. Jesus said “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Mark 8:36, 37). God’s free offer of salvation is made to you today. Will you sincerely accept it? Be in earnest about this most vital issue. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved” (Acts 16.31). Remember: In eternity, football will be of no importance!