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Monday, December 4, 2017 10:37 AM

A Theology of Sports

Monday, December 4, 2017 10:37 AM
Monday, December 4, 2017 10:37 AM

I am still nursing a jammed pinky of black and blue proportions and a turned ankle of tennis ball proportions from a basketball game last week. “30” is coming quick and apparently with it - the loss of athletic ability. Some of my fondest memories growing up are playing sports. The camaraderie, the competition, the preparation, the ability to play at a high skill level, the FUN! It’s a gift that I will always remember and be thankful for.

Not only that, one of my favorite hobbies is following collegiate sports. I used to practice sportscasting growing up. I used to treat statistical analysis as if it were homemade homework. I love sports. But I’ve found that sports make lousy gods. They fail you. Your body fails you. Your teammates fail you. Your coaches fail you.

Thus, it would be foolish NOT to equip ourselves and our kids with a robust theology of sports.

ZERO POINT ZERO FOUR

There is a 5.8% chance that your high school athlete plays a collegiate sport and an even lower 4.5% chance that they will be on scholarship for that sport. There is a 0.04% chance that your High School Athlete plays at the professional level.

These stats are not meant to kill kids’ dreams of athletic greatness but rather to keep a healthy perspective on two things: 1) What role sports should play in our lives; and 2) What matters most in life.

WHAT ROLE SHOULD SPORTS PLAY IN OUR LIFE?

Sports are an incredible gift from God that can cultivate character and build principles of self-discipline. When used as a tool for elevating Giver above gift they are God-glorifying and find their peak satisfaction in our lives. The problem is sin. Sin takes sports and uses them as a weapon for division, bitterness, jealousy, pride, power, self-promotion, and covetousness.

When Christ invades athletics his Spirit can utilize your child as a weapon for unity, encouragement, love, humility, servant-hood, Christ-promotion, thankfulness and integrity. An eternal-minded Christian athlete can be a force on the athletic field for the true Kingdom. What a difference your life can make if your mindset changed from building upon your own "sinking sand" of a name (Matt. 7:26-27) to building upon Christ's firm name (Matt. 7:24-25)!

WHAT MATTERS MOST IN LIFE?

I think most professing Christians that play sports would confess Christ as Lord and not sports as Lord. Unfortunately the way we live, act, and talk, many times, do not reflect such a confession. Sports are certainly an opportunity to cultivate character and discipline but eternally more important is the opportunity they provide to tell the world, “THIS IS NOT MY LORD, CHRIST IS!”

When Christ is Lord of your life you begin to submit all aspects of your life to his will. Your time (Eph. 5:15-16), money (Heb. 13:5), thoughts (Rom. 12:2), abilities (Col. 3:23-24) are all given to you so that you may use them for Christ’s name and not your own. A life submitted to Christ is one that reflects often on time, money, thoughts and abilities so that each can be leveraged for a Kingdom purpose.

KIDS: Give your dreams to the Lord. Give your abilities to the Lord. Cultivate your God-given talents for his glory and if he so wills you to play at the next level may you respond with an “AMEN!” And if he doesn’t, may your response not waver! Sports make lousy gods but Christ is an unfailing, ever-faithful Rock that provides eternally more satisfaction than a "win" or a scholarship to college ever could. How are you preparing for life after sports (generally and spiritually)? How are you keeping sports fun and enjoyable for yourself and your teammates? 

PARENTS: Childhood & adolescence is the opportunity to shepherd a child’s heart to Jesus. You have the unique opportunity to speak by example, “Sports are not our family’s God - Christ is!” Do your schedules reflect this? Do your bank accounts reflect this? Do your thoughts reflect this? Do your attitudes reflect this? How are you preparing your children for life after sports (generally and spiritually)? How are you keeping sports fun and enjoyable for your child? 

** Statistics can be found at: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/estimated-probability-competing-college-athletics … & https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Recruiting%20Fact%20Sheet%20WEB.pdf …

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