It’s the time for which some have been longing and others dreading. It is the start of the most watched TV event in the world, an event that will result in wall to wall football everywhere in the media. People will fix flags to their cars, watch a sport avidly that they ignore for most of the time. Football is the world game, played by more people in more countries and taken more seriously than any other.
One of the things that I find interesting is the way so many get swept along with their team. The British by and large seem to be quite understated in their patriotism unlike many other countries yet if the English team start to play well, the flags will be out. The problem comes when the love of your own nation is demonstrated by hating other countries. There have been widely reported incidents in the past when following a defeat, some supporters have attacked cars made in Germany or even physically attacked individuals who happen to look as if they may be Portuguese or Argentinean.
As a Welsh man I see the same traits in my own people with so many happy to proclaim their hatred of the English and support anyone playing against them. Considering most of us have English friends and relatives this thinking is balmy.
The Christian thinker Jim Wallis has said that all patriotism is idolatry and that does have a ring of truth. Certainly if it means we have to hate people from other nations then it must be wrong. How can we hate everyone from any country?
As Christians our thinking must be different, we are citizens of heaven and strangers in the world. We have no need to win competitions since we follow someone who won the greatest victory of all when he defeated sin and death. That victory also destroyed social and racial barriers between Christians. The simple truth is that we have more in common with people in other nations who follow Jesus than with those around us who hate the things of God. We see everything in the world as temporary and long for the better world to come.
In the meantime I hope to enjoy football and just for the record I’m supporting England.