Referees were making the news last weekend as there were some really controversial decisions. I have to confess that I felt very sorry for Wigan as they played exceptionally well against Chelsea only to eventually lose the match 2-1, sadly, both goals against them were clearly offside. In Sundays matches, QPR conceded a penalty and had a player sent off for a foul that should never have been awarded as the United player was in an offside position and in the Arsenal – Man City game, Mario Balotelli’s horror tackle was completely ignored by the match officials.
In spite of these ‘shockers’, I feel a great deal of sympathy for match officials, sport is played at an unbelievable pace and decisions have to be made in a fraction of a second without the benefit of slow motion replays. Add to this the highly partisan supporters and players who are often seeking to bend the rules to the point of cheating and it is truly a thankless task. We are used to seeing players surrounding referees and shouting in order to influence decisions but nothing quite like the video below where a Brazilian player had to be arrested by the police following a physical attack on the referee. I shouldn’t laugh but it is funny.
I think the question is, why would anyone want to be a referee? They never commit fouls or get caught offside and yet so often they get blamed for all that’s wrong with the game. I suppose it’s a bit like being involved in the Church.
I suspect that referees for the most part, do it for the love of the sport, they want to make a contribution to the success of the game that they love. In the same way, those who serve in the church do it because they love God and love his people. Without that love, our deeds are not enough. The risen Christ speaks to the church in Ephesus and commends them for their deeds but challenges them on their motivation and commands them to repent.
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” (Revelation 2:2-4)
In the busyness of life, it’s easy to do things out of habit or loyalty and so lose sight of what really matters. The Church is all about Jesus. He’s the one who died to bring salvation, he is the builder, the one who makes it grow, the head, the source, it is his body, his bride.
I imagine that many of us have felt like a referee at times, surrounded by people who are shouting and criticised on all sides. It is then that we have to look again to Jesus, to gain some perspective and to drawn into a deeper love for him.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)