I took my daughter to a Minnesota Vikings football game yesterday. They won the game, and we had a great time taking in the event. I was reminded, however, of a time in my childhood when I thought that it was somehow my fault whenever my favorite team lost the big game. Growing up in an era in which the Vikings lost four Super Bowls, I had plenty of opportunities to wonder what I did that made God punish me so.
I look back and shake my head at the notion. How selfish of me to think that my sins are so central to the cosmos, that a mere misstep in my ten-year-old existence would factor into the balance of power in the National Football League.
I have to admit, the book of Judges sometimes tempts me to revert back to that kind of silly thinking. There is so much time scrunched into so few verses. It feels like a constant stream of karma. The people worshiping other Gods and something bad happening. They repent and something good happens. It feels a bit like their faith is a lucky charm.
I don't think that my wrong doings make the difference in a football game. I don't believe in reducing God to a good luck charm or Santa Claus who will do whatever I want if I'm good enough. I do, however, think that my wrong doings have negative consequences. My faithfulness to God's message has positive consequences. My perpetual wrong doings have increasingly negative consequences, both spiritually and physically, for me and those around me. My obedience has increasingly positive spiritual and physical consequences (for me and those around me, but not for the Vikings).