God and Sports

Children Playing Soccer Which is more important to the average Christian today, God or sports?

This is probably a touchy subject to cover here, especially this time of year. Most of our friends and family members are gearing up for the early summer blitz of ball practice-filled afternoons and evenings, several games a week (multiplied by however many children they have participating), not to mention all the drive time and day long tournaments, etc. It makes me tired just reading the schedules my sister-in-law emails me. And I do see the draw, don’t get me wrong. Sports are a fun & challenging way to keep our kids in shape and teach them some invaluable lessons about teamwork. But I think active pursuit of sports teaches our kids more than the above.

Growing up, we had a family rule regarding sports. If a game fell on a Sunday morning or evening, or on a Wednesday night, we didn’t go. Non-negotiable. Church always came first. You see, when church becomes “optional”, or when we make exceptions to allow for sports, we’re saying that some things are more important than God. At least in my humble perspective.

I know some parents who view children’s sports as a training field, something they hope may eventually pan out in the form of college scholarships, etc. If only we viewed the spiritual journey of a child’s life in the same way. Planning for their successful future as God’s emissary, rather than hoping they’ll “go pro” in the big leagues where so many players catch headlines with drug charges, DUIs and disorderly conduct at bars. I mean, really, which future does God want for our children?

I know, I know. It sounds like I’m totally against sports. I’m not. We haven’t signed our kids up yet, for the main factor that the hustle and bustle of it doesn’t appeal to our preference to keep life simple and unfettered by spiritually insignificant activities.

My resolve deepens with every Superbowl Sunday. Fans in the pew anxiously eye their watches in church, wanting to get home and get lunch over with before the pre-game show. Evening services are canceled to accommodate this every year. Something in my soul hurts when I see how excited the millions in the stadium get, cheering their teams on as if this game will change history and be more than a blip on the screen when compared to eternity. There is definitely something addictive about sports. Sports are probably more central to conversation among believers than scripture or ways that God is working in our lives. That is so sad! Am I the only one bothered by this?

Matthew 16:26,

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Why do we actively pursue the things of this world and idly stand by while our loved ones die without Christ? Yes, we need Christian athletes out there making a difference for Christ, especially in this culture that worships the arena…but the question remains.

If a stranger spent a day with you, by day’s end, what will they have noticed? Will our speech and passions and collections reveal Christ, or is He just something we reserve for Sundays…if we even give Him that. If a stranger can see it, our kids sure can. What a message. And I know for some of us, it’s not sports, really. It could be our job, our hobby, a person in our life, a different addiction (computer, TV, books, food).

Does He delight us, or is our primary happiness found in other activities? Dangerous questions, and I for sure don’t have all the answers. But I do know this:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33, NASB

God doesn’t require that we pursue Him only. But He does require that we seek Him first. It’s a case of keeping prioritized. Not always easy to do, is it?

10 thoughts on “God and Sports”

  1. With eight children, we’ve never been signed up for an organized sport. Can you believe that?

    We just really keep is simple…for the reasons you stated.

    Good post,Mary, although I know that it will step on several toes…

    :)

  2. I can see where you’re coming from. I think there has to be a balance. Here in NZ the only sports that are played on Sunday are major rugby and rugby league ones like Australia vs NZ etc. The kids ones are mostly played on a Saturday.

    Amy’s last blog post..The Simple Woman’s Day

  3. Thanks, Holly. I can’t imagine how big families would be able to handle everyone having a turn at a sport of their choice! Another good reason for people to stop having kids after two, which is really sad, huh.

    Hi Jessica! I know what you mean, it’s the other stuff for me too. Great reminder about seek being an action verb!

    Amy, here in the US, schools used to refrain from even sending homework home on Wednesdays, because so many people attended prayer meetings that night. Things have changed drastically…many games are on Sundays now, not to mention Weds. :(

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I never understood games being played on Sundays, I find that so wrong.

    I allowed my sons to play for two season at soccer, thankfully they got bored and didtn’ want to go back! I am just not a soccer mom. I hated driving to practice and getting up at 8:00 am Saturday mornings for 9:00 am games, argghh…

    Parents should speak out against Sunday games.

    Leticia’s last blog post..Stardate 00515.8

  5. Mary,
    You said it well. I don’t know if you’ve read Family Driven Faith but Voddie Baucham makes many of the same points you’ve made here. I agree with you that our priorities are clear when we consistently allow sports to override gathering together with the body of Christ.

    Thanks for writing this. Good thoughts.
    Jess

    Jess’s last blog post..Meme for May

  6. Leticia, I know what you mean, weekends should be sacred, huh…even Saturdays! πŸ˜‰ It has always seemed like a lot of running around to me. I wonder how people continue to do it with gas prices ever increasing.

    I totally understand about the meme, Jess! Thanks for tagging me, I’m not always up for memes, but sometimes they give me a topic to go with when I’m running low on time! I will be sure to stop by and check it out!

    I’ve never heard of the book, but am making a note because it sounds wonderful! Thanks for mentioning it here!

  7. I don’t think sports in and of themselves are harmful, but it is like anything, taken to extreme it can be. I do involve my children in sports, that they want to play, but we take breaks, and try not to get too many things going at once. I know many people who it is there entire life, and I think we all should be cautious of letting anything take up so much of our time, other than serving God.

  8. I definitely agree. Sports can be a great thing, but they seem to be approaching worship status here in America. Sometimes I just long for the idyllic childhood days that most children used to have, before summer ball teams became the norm. I should admit that I’m not one to talk, as I don’t have a sports enthusiastic bone in my body! πŸ˜‰

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