That offside rule

The English crowd roared with delight as Ellen White tapped in the pass from Beth Mead that levelled the score against their world cup semi-final opponents the USA. But the celebrations were cut short as a flag was raised for offside and a tense wait ensued while the virtual referee decided whether or not an offence had been committed. Tragically for England it had, but only just. The video showed that half of Ellen’s boot was too far forward, and the goal was disallowed.

In that sense at least being offside is just like sinning. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve made a tiny transgression or a huge one, because either way you’ve broken the law. In his letter recorded in the Bible, St James says that if we stumble over just one point of God’s law, we might as well have broken them all. It’s not that God is particularly picky (unlike some referees) it’s just that the tiniest wrongdoing on our part shows that we’ve fallen short of His glory, and like being offside that’s a problem.

The good news is that while offside decisions in a game of football can’t be reversed, our falling short of God’s glory can be. As St James says, ‘Mercy triumphs over judgement!’

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