Blog Archives

The God of Sports

Over the past several years there have been many sports stars who proclaim their faith through a publicly exhibited bent knee on the court or in the end zone.  The reaction has been fairly mixed; some appreciate their courage and commitment to demonstrate their beliefs so openly.  Others may feel offended or merely disdainful of such a frivolous display.  Yet one thing is certain: the discussion over the inclusion of God in sports is far from over.

I have been playing tennis for almost thirty-five years now—you would think in this amount of time I would actually be rather good, but some goals are continually elusive!  There are many reasons for why I choose to play tennis.  I love the game, its angles, strategy and the camaraderie enjoyed by those who play.  Since I’m insulin dependent diabetic, the exercise is extremely beneficial for my overall health, but more than anything, I just enjoy the game.

As with any sport, tennis can be rather frustrating.  The majority of this frustration stems from too little time, even less practice, an almost total lack of natural talent and the fact I will never be paid to play!  One of the guys on my ALTA team has a habit of saying, “Can I get you anything? A drink?  A snack?  Some lessons?”  Some people just have the gift of encouragement!

Over the years I have heard sportscasters almost sneer as they have made comments like, “I really doubt God cares about football (insert any sport here).”  Others, trying to attach the implied exclusiveness of Christianity may observe, “God certainly doesn’t have a favorite team!”

As a believer and follower of Christ, I find myself in an ongoing conversation with Him about every aspect of my life.  I sometimes speak with Him “under my breath,” thank Him for not letting me hit the parked car that I barely missed, and while on the tennis court, I even ask Him to help me make a particular shot.  There is virtually nothing we do not talk about.

Now I can state with absolute certainty the Bible does not contain any doctrines regarding sports.  So for those who have always believed as much, congratulations on your keen insight!  What the Bible makes crystal clear is this: God most likely cares little for sports, but he does care very much for those who are His children.

I have uttered numerous prayers to the Father regarding a particular shot or allowing me the ability to return an extremely well-placed serve; and I can say God does not always grant me my request.

So is God apathetic toward my plight?  Is He more interested in watching my frustration rise or the other team win?  Could it be when I am on the tennis court my prayers are nullified since I am not in church, expanding His kingdom or ministering to the needy?

Some people feel they must be exceptionally demonstrative with their faith by the outward demonstration of faith’s existence; this is where fist-pumps heavenward, kneeling in the end-zone and any other overtly Christian demonstration may be witnessed.  Are any of these wrong or “over-the-top?”  They could be, but the Lord has not given me the ability, or the right, to judge the motivation of another.  About the only reasonable thing an observer can do is to continue to observe and see if the demonstrable is really a “proof of life.”

I believe there are times when the most appropriate action we can take to demonstrate our faith is a silent prayer to make a shot, kick the field goal or net the basket.  Our faith is not a series of quasi-annoying demonstrations of our faith while we are in the spotlight.  True faith experiences life all the while realizing it is God who grants the ability to live and to play.

Our culture is enamored with the spotlight and Warhol’s “fifteen minutes of fame.”  It is better to pray and live rather than to live and forget to pray.  If our desire is to give God the glory—and for Him to receive all of it—we must live our lives avoiding as much of the attention as possible and allow God to speak through the existential, everyday circumstances which make up life.

It’s better for someone to point and say, “Look at how God uses that guy,” rather than someone to point and smirk, “Look at how that guy uses God!”

Just sayin . . . . . . . . .

Let’s Pretend

Let’s pretend.

There is nothing past this life.  There is neither heaven nor hell.  Whatever we put into this life is all we will get back; we answer to none other than ourselves.

Life then becomes a series of experiences; occurrences which may or may not fall under our control.  We vacillate between conqueror and victim depending on the circumstance.  If we plan well, things should go well unless events transpire beyond our ability to see or plan.  If we find ourselves in situations we find inherently unpleasant, we either become another statistical anomaly subject to actuaries and their tables or we must rely on humanly devised coping mechanisms: personal, pharmaceutical, psychological or other remedies of self-medication.

Now since we have developed over the course of countless tens, if not hundreds, of millennia (remember, we’re still pretending here) and the ever evolving ability to rationalize our environment and milieu to some balance point so we can function normally (defining “normal” as a comparative Bell curve of society, longing to be included into the ever-present sixty-eighth percentile), we have no other longings or desires beyond the moment, the “now,” the “what is.”

If all of this is indeed true (yep, still pretending here) should we not see less stressors in our world, less discomfort at one’s death (since death is nothing more than the evolutionary outworking in our midst) and more equilibrium in society as a whole?  Would not crime become self-regulating since evolution would have naturally de-selected those whose motives were not more toward equilibrium and balance?  Would we not see a greater emphasis on relationships knowing they alone give intrinsic value to life?

Yet none of these musings are true; none of them have any basis in reality.  They cannot since we are merely “pretending.”

Our world desperately pretends there is nothing other than the “now.”  Society screams individualism yet demands compliance to the accepted norms.  While no long-term, objective, evidence exists for the evolutionary model, it remains the “holy grail” of science; all the while its very existence is morally and logically self-defeating.  As one writer claimed almost 2000 years ago, while they “profess themselves to be wise they [become] fools.”

Every single person in this world longs for the eternal: more time, more life, or simply just “more.”  The time we have alive is fleeting and never long enough.  The desire to live is paramount, yet to believe we only desire to avoid death for the sake of more and greater experience is as simplistic as it is puerile.  It is not the experience of things but of relationships which make our “time” possess its intrinsic value.  Time has meaning because of the relationships we have with others.

If what we “pretend” to have is true, why do we still long for “more” beyond what we have and will be given?  Would not “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” have long ago removed those who think such things from humanity’s midst due to the weakness of such characteristics?

I do not advocate religion.  I do not advocate following a set of rules.  What I do advocate is a relationship extending beyond this life into eternity.  Jesus Christ invites people “Come to Me,” not “Come to those who claim to follow Me.”

When we trust in what He has done, what He has taught and what He promises, we are not changing merely our minds but we embark on a relationship which changes who we are!

No one can keep pretending forever.

Who would want to?