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?
“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?