I have loved watching the FIFA World Cup this year. But my favorite parts haven’t been the games, though they have at times been exciting. No, what I have enjoyed are the pre-game ceremonies. I love watching the little South African boys in their football uniforms escorting the players of each team onto the field, holding hands with some of the best players in the world. Some of the young faces are split with grins. For others, their features are etched with the seriousness of the situation. All, I am certain, will retell their moment on the world’s stage for the rest of their lives.
The teams file onto the field, the little boys now standing in front of each player. I love how the camera pans the players’ faces as their national anthem is sung. It’s that same feeling I get during the Olympics. Each player carries the weight of their entire country on their shoulders, knowing they are competing for the honor of their fellow citizens. And yet, in spite of the pressure, they are proud. They sing with fervor as the camera then seeks out their fans, some draped in their flag, others painted with country colors, all singing at the top of their lungs.
Lately those scenes remind me not of my loyalty to America, but of my loyalty to my real King and country, knowing that my true citizenship is in heaven. Every day I “compete,” as Paul reminds us in his letters. I run a race, and I am to run it in a way that is seeking the prize of the high calling of Christ. Every day I represent my King and all my fellow citizens of heaven in my every action, large or small, public or private. If only would I always consider my representation of the Lord and His saints as much of an honor and responsibility as the soccer players competing for their country in a World Cup game.