What Sports Can Teach Christians

I’m sitting here thinking about the NCAA Basketball National Championship game just a few hours away. Of course, in some circles this mere thought is anathema. Sports, it seems, is too competitive and destructive for us to glean anything valuable from it. It is mere mindless emotional drivel meant to reflex the supremacy of soldiers in peace time exercises. It  competes for a Christian’s passion and time and is thus a time-sapper, wasteful and vain. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Not to say that there are some negative lessons we can learn from sports – for there certainly are, but I think that all too often we as Christians miss some of the positive lessons sports have to offer. What is more, these lessons give illumination into our own shortcomings. Perhaps this is why we don’t like to think of sports as another sort of thermometer on how the church is doing in its mission. Lest we get arrogant and full of pride we must remember that there is not a single person in the world who doesn’t have something of value to teach us. Every life is so intrinsically valuable and full of knowledge and experience that we become the worst kind of fool – an old fool – if we live a life as if the lives of others have nothing to teach us. So to, we as Christians, are the worst kind of Christian fool if we think that we cannot learn lessons outside of our own ranks. This isn’t an argument do blur the dividing line, but to be available to honest, loving and healthy critique.

So, back to sports and the lessons it holds for us Christians. Here are a few that I think are continually pumped into the face of the social conscience and we Christians need to hearken well to these reminders.

  1. Life is a team endeavor: In individualistic America this grain of truth can be so hard to swallow. Even more for us “go it alone” Christians who fail to allow the rest of the body of Christ edify and exhort you into higher levels of maturity through the spiritual gifts. Or perhaps you have become a Christian who doesn’t want to share your gift or you want another gift so you call time out, sit, pout and refuse to get back into the game. That happened this last month in the NBA, where a player refused to go back and play the rest of a game after his coach put him on the bench 12 minutes in to talk strategy. Perhaps you want to be the shooter and not the point guard. Either way, glory hounds and ball hogs do not win it. We might like to see the interview with the Quarterback or MVP, but even in track and field it is a team effort that gets a win.  Trusting the support pillars God has put in your life to lift you up and carry you is necessary in victorious living. Paul tells us in Galatians 6 “to carry one another’s burdens.” Well, we have to know about the burdens in order to carry them. Even marathon runners  run in groups. Quit trying to go it alone. It is a philosophy of darkness, despair and defeat.
  2. The value of human life is not based on ability. In the last few years we’ve seen this when a 17 old  down syndrome boy named Jason McElwain  scored 20 points in the last and only basketball game of his career as a senior in high school, or the blind boy who shot two free throws in the last moments of a basketball game (with the game on the line) to win the game, or the down syndrome football player who ran for a touchdown for his school. These stories lift our spirits to new heights because they remind of us of our extreme ignorance and insensitivity on the plight, feelings, thoughts and abilities of those precious people who are so-called disabled.  In a time when the convenience of abortion is argued especially in these sort of scenarios these great heroes, via sports have put faces and names, to remind in our social conscience the intrinsic value of human life because it is human not because of its abilities. As Christians, the reality is that sports has helped us fight this great fight of our time more than we care to admit. Perhaps if we really took the lesson here we would also invest our personal time into the life of the disabled. Thereby our actions would be where our mouths are and we would understand on the most personal of levels just how precious this segment of our society is and then we might fight even harder for them.
  3. Racism has no place in sports (or life). Of course it finds its way into sporting events – still. But is there a segment of our society who is doing a better job at fighting racism than those who are professional sports people? Who doesn’t love Tony Dungy? The man is a walking, talking, persuading man on a mission. His style wins the day.  And why is it that I keep hearing people mention how many white people are starting for Duke and Butler? Who cares? Or rather, Why do you care? We are all of the one race called mankind.  Racism is rampant and it has no place in our lives.  Movies like Blind Side and Remember the Titans and lives like Jackie Robinson remind of us of the great strides that have been made by sports in this area and continue to be made in this arena of life. Do we hold hockey players to a different code of behavior as opposed to NBA players? Why?

So, sports has great value to the Christian. First it reminds us that God has built us as social beings. We are not meant to go it alone. This is especially true in the Christian walk. As for racism and the value of human life, Christians should be the ones fighting and not giving an inch on these great issues. While we can learn from the strides made in sports on these areas, we must also be rebuked for our idleness is itself part of the problem. The good thing is that as we grow into maturity there are many more lessons for us to gleam from the gallery of life. Don’t keep your viewing to a minimum.

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One Comment to “What Sports Can Teach Christians”

  1. wow… such a wonderful post…
    outstanding balance of lines and words….
    Learnt a lot from you….

    visit mine… & plz plz plz post your comments….

    Thank you…

    I’ll be in touch…

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