The God of Losers

Before his NFL playoff game on Sunday, January 18, Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, tweeted:

“All my hope is in You Jesus! You are my anchor that is never shaken!”

His team trailed the entire game by as many as sixteen points. With a few minutes left in the game, the Packers were winning 19-7. In what seemed like an inspired flurry of adrenaline, Wilson led the charge that tied the game in regulation and forced an overtime. In the extra time, Wilson threw a thirty-five yard touchdown to send his team to the Superbowl. He gathered with a few staff and players to pray on the field after the game, and in the post-game celebration, he tweeted:

“Headed back to the Super Bowl!!!! QBs in the House! Glory to God! One Mission. #MakeThemNotice.”

In a post game interview, he thanked God for the win and said he never lost faith, never doubted. He believes God prepared him and his team for this type of situation. As a Christian myself, I reacted to all of this God and Jesus talk surrounding the playoff game. I believe that God created Russell Wilson, and that Wilson does honor God by using his gifts to the best of his ability. I even support Wilson’s commitment to thank God and lean on something bigger than himself. I think my discomfort creeps in, however, because it could be easily misconstrued that God loves the winners more than the losers. God created Aaron Rogers, the losing quarterback, too.

Maybe Wilson would have gathered to pray and thanked God as profusely if the Seahawks had lost, but they didn’t. So what I see from the tweets coupled with the win is that what is being promoted is a God of winners. God rewards those who don’t doubt and have blind faith. That God is on the side of the winners and loves the winners and interceded for the winners. That God helped Wilson win because he is a believer. That, for me, is only part of the story, it is a theology of glory that limits our God.

The day after the Seahawks win, we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Here was a believer and preacher who saw God more readily on the side of the losers. He took other Christians to task for not living out God’s call to justice. He reminded other Christians that Jesus loves all people radically.

Shortly after the death of King, Rev. Dr. James Cone birthed Black Liberation Theology. The black Jesus Cone wrote about reminds us that God is present even more intensely with the marginalized and oppressed people in society.

“God is a God that makes liberation meaningful to those who are marginalized no matter where they are. God takes on that identity of the oppressed” – Dr. James Cone

The Civil Rights Movement and the black power movement gave rise to Black Liberation Theology. Today the #BlackLivesMatter movement reminds us that King’s dream of equity is not yet fulfilled. Today, we can call on King and Cohen to remember that God is with Russell Wilson on his way to the Superbowl, yes, but God is also with the losers. God is dwelling with the most vulnerable people in society, weeping with those who weep:

“The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”      –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Published by Ellie Roscher

Ellie Roscher is the author of How Coffee Saved My Life, and Other Stories of Stumbling to Grace. She holds a master’s degree in Theology/Urban Ministry from Luther Seminary and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

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