At a wedding shower for my wife and me, the hosts played a game where they asked us both the same questions about one another to test how well we knew each other going into marriage. With my wife out of the room, they asked me who my favorite superhero was. I quickly responded, “Nick Saban.” As the game went, my wife was brought into the room and asked the same questions about me. When asked who she thought my favorite superhero was, she immediately replied, “That’s easy. Nick Saban.”
It’s true: I’m pretty much obsessed with Nick Saban. On January 3, 2007, lying prostrate before the television, I came to tears when ESPN announced that Saban would accept the position as head coach of my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide. Thirty-three wins, two SEC West Titles, one SEC Title, and a BCS National Title later, my epic man-crush has done nothing but grow. I beam when I hear the man’s name.
Anyone with an objective, discerning mind reasonably may ask why I, a youth minister, adore a man that CNN rated the ninth most hated man in sports in 2009. Let’s be honest, outside of his success in football, Nick Saban is best known for his tendencies to humiliate journalists, never smile, and berate players and officials. Many people- especially journalists- would describe Saban as a jerk.
With that being said, I literally would beam with joy if Coach Saban called me tomorrow to come to his house to shovel dog mess and scrub his bathrooms with a toothbrush. My obsession knows no end.
The easy explanation to why I adore Nick Saban is the Christian doctrine of imputation. Really? Let me explain. On a recent trip to Texas, I had a swagger in my step that certainly would not have existed in the dismal Shula era, pre-Saban. Each day, I wore the most flagrantly obnoxious Alabama gear I could find. I was in the territory of our latest victim, the Texas Longhorns, whom Alabama toppled to secure their most recent national title. And when people in Texas asked where we were from, I couldn’t help myself, I had to say, “Alabama, home of the national champions.”
Even though, I am a slow, middle-class, unathletic, weak, average youth minister, I am a freakin’ national champion in my warped reality, when I don my worn, mesh Alabama hat. I have contributed absolutely nothing to attain this status. Nick Saban, his staff, and some unbelievably athletic and committed young men worked endless hours and performed in an exceptional manner to win fourteen straight games, including the BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena. Through the efforts of these men, I have been given the status as national champion (in my mind), in spite of the fact that I added nothing to their cause.
This, my friends, is the nature of the doctrine of imputation, one of the most critical concepts in Christianity: the accomplishment of one person is credited to another. Christ lived a perfect life and died on the cross, not just to forgive our sins, but to give us new identities. In spite of the fact that we make no contribution whatsoever.
I have one more month to enjoy my inherited status as the national champion until college football kicks off in early September. Thanks be to God, my status as a son of God will last through the Fall and into eternity.