The World Cup, England and you

The English perception of ourselves is never clearer than during major football tournaments.

The Lightning Seeds capture it well with their classic song,

“Everyone seems to know the score, they've seen it all before. They just know, they're so sure. That England's gonna throw it away, gonna blow it away.”

Modern psychology would call it a self-esteem problem. We’re pretty down on ourselves.

Contrast this with our Australian or American friends who seem so confident. They’re not ‘gonna throw it away’.

They’re gonna win. But us? Maybe. But we’ll probably blow it away.

Shaky Self-Esteem

An American once told me that British culture is humble. But we shouldn’t confuse high or low self-esteem with pride and humility.

Self-esteem – whether high or low – is based on the self. On pride. It’s about my ability or inability to live up to a standard.

And it’s shaky. After England beat Colombia suddenly the pundits moved on from the doldrums to the chorus – ‘Football’s coming home!’

Gareth Southgate

Self-esteem is based on our performance. BBC Sport illustrated this well with this Instagram photo of Gareth Southgate. Its title?


Self-esteem is a precarious ball-game. Our condemnation or redemption depends on our performance. On that penalty.

Our sense of self flip-flops like the Lightening Seeds song. But not so our identity in Christ.

Cast-Iron Identity

God’s grace levels the playing field. There are no winners and losers in the church. We’re all losers, basking in the victory of Christ (Colossians 2:15).

No-one qualifies after good performance or gets eliminated due to poor performance.

When we’re obedient, we praise Jesus for that joy. When we’re disobedient, we repentantly praise Jesus that we’re no less clothed with his perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21)

So tonight, whether England win or lose, redemption’s secure. Your identity doesn’t waiver.

You can celebrate without being proud. Or be disappointed without being crushed.