The last two weeks have been full of magical football moments. The quick thinking corner from Trent Alexander Arnold and the ball boy; Lucas Moura’s last ditch goal and that Kompany shot. But this week, something entirely different grabbed my attention. I had just got home from work to join my oldest son in watching the closing seconds of the play off match between the league two Rovers when the camera homed in on a Tranmere fan. He was standing on the barriers, wildly celebrating his club’s progression to the final and his face seemed familiar. After a closer look I checked with our the boy, who confirmed that this was none other than Mike Dean, the premier league referee who has presided over FA and League cup finals and recently produced his 100th top flight red card. I’m no expert in football or refereeing, but it seems like a good thing to me that a man who presides over the millionaires and prima donnas of our top division loves football.
We don’t like the idea of being judged. The idea of God as a Judge is sobering and scary for theists, annoying for atheists and sometimes uncomfortable for Christians. But we all know that rules contribute to a good game, laws make for a stable country and honesty makes for good relationships. We also know that human beings have a propensity to break rules, dodge laws and lie when it suits our purposes. Cards need to be shown; we need a referee.
Whether we like it or not, God is the judge of all the earth. He judges with perfect justice and equity. All history must give account to him and the account of our misdemeanours must be settled in person. We might get away with it even for a lifetime, but then all will appear before the throne of judgement on his appointed day. We have a referee.
God thinks the world is good. He has good plans for you. He loves you. But he cannot just let the mess we have made of the world go and he will judge us. So he has made a provision for us by serving our sentence, observing our ban, receiving our cards himself. God loved the world so much that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life in the future, and life in all its fullness now. Mike Dean is not like God in the perfection of his judgement or his provision for offenders. But the close-up at The New Lawn on Monday night was a delightful reminder that this referee loves the game.