The Christian and Sports

A young couple received a beautiful eight setting set of china and coordinating crystal ware as a wedding gift from a well-to-do uncle.  When they got home from their honeymoon and moved into their modest rented apartment, they were careful to take special care of the expensive gift.  They did not have any furniture in which to display the china and crystal, so they left it packed safely away in the original packing boxes.  After they had settled in, they decided to have some of their friends over for a very special meal.  As they prepared for their guests, it was obvious that the dishes they had gotten from the local grocery store’s promotion just would not fit the occasion in the right way.  They decided they would unpack the special china and use it with the crystal and have a wonderful time of fellowship with their friends.

When their guests arrived everything was in place for a good time.  The food was ready, the table was set and all were prepared to enjoy themselves.  After the meal they went into their small living room and talked and laughed for the rest of the evening.  Once all their friends had left, the young husband decided he would help his wife and wash the dishes.  He went into the kitchen, filled the washtub with clean, hot water and dish soap, and began cleaning the pots and pans and greasy utensils.  He figured he would get the hard stuff done first.  After he had put many of the plates and saucers into the filthy water, his young wife came into the kitchen and saw to her horror the beautiful china in the washtub full of filthy, greasy water.  She instantly pushed her husband out of the way, grabbed the washtub, ran out onto the deck, and dumped the water into the grass three floors below her.  Yes, she threw the expensive china out with the dirty dishwater.  This fictional story illustrates how some Christians react to certain issues in our lives.

There is a trend among some Christian educators and youth leaders toward not offering or participating in sporting activities.  Why?  Today it is not hard to get an upset stomach listening to sports stars extol their abilities, and watching them make “statements” by dyeing hair, tearing off jerseys, dancing in the end zone, showing up as the bride at their own wedding, and generally being “as bad as” they “want to be.”  What is truly saddening is that many Christians, especially young people, are these sports stars’ fans.  They wear their jerseys, read their biographies, know their statistics, and try to “be like” their sports “gods.”  Besides that, there are many immature Christians who cannot keep a good testimony at a sporting event – either as a participant, or watching their children compete.  The referees needs their glasses, got their license from the Cracker Jack box, or just do not know anything about that sport.  The coach does not know what he is doing and neither do any of their child’s teammates.  There have been many times while participating in a wrestling match that I have seen some opponent throw a temper tantrum when he lost, or even after winning (but not pinning).  There is a problem in Christian sports today.  Some administrators believe winning is everything.  While they might not say it, their policies and decisions reveal that in their sports program they expect to win regardless of what it costs.

In light of these problems, some have determined that they will not have a sports program in their school.  They acknowledge that some type of extra-curricular activity is helpful, so music is offered as a superior alternative to sports.  Music is a very important part of our lives and holds a prominent place in the Scriptures.  In Psalm 33:3 we are encouraged to Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.  In our service we ought to do whatever it takes to be able to play or sing skillfully.  The time we spend preparing to play or sing is ministry as much as the “performance” of the special.  Psalm 40:3 exclaims that he hath put a new song in my mouth.  It also teaches that many will be able to see the new song and will respond to my testimony in song.  In the New Testament we are taught to speak to ourselves and admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).  There is nothing wrong with having a strong music program in a school or church.  In fact, we ought to have good music in our schools and churches.

Collectively, we spend hundreds of hours each week preparing to serve the Lord with musical praise and worship.  We have grade school bands, a high school band, a church band, a brass ensemble, instrumental soloists, trios, and duets.  We also have junior high singing ensembles, a high school choir, a church choir, many church singing groups and soloists, along with our college ensemble and men’s quartet.  Music is a big part of our ministry.  At one time in my life I was involved in the high school band, the church band, a high school brass quartet, a high school brass ensemble, the church brass ensemble, the high school choir, and playing instrumental solos.  I had twelve scheduled music practice times in each week.  Music is an excellent area to encourage our children to excel and do their best for God.  Through music we can learn a little about the beauty of God’s holiness, and the excellence of his righteousness.  There are a multitude of lessons we can learn and apply to our Christianity through music, but music can not be an alternative to a good sports program in your ministry.

While training our children we ought not neglect the outstanding benefit of a good sports program.  Sports is as good an area to train children in or better than music.  Originally, the gymnasium was were young men went to learn to be soldiers.  In the gym, they learned through friendly contests, the struggles of battle.  The benefit of a good sports program should be obvious.  The Bible mentions sports or warfare hundreds of times.  Fight the good fight of faith… (1 Timothy 6:12)  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course… (2 Timothy 4:7)  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).  …let us run with patience the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1)  The intensiveness of a demanding sports program is clearly parallel to Paul’s description of the Christian life in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  The Christian is more often referred to as a soldier of the cross than a singer of the song.  Our Christian life is more like warfare than a symphony.

There are problems with sports programs in many schools.  The way we and our children respond to sports may not always be right.  The water is dirty and greasy, but there is value in the washtub.  Through sports we can train our children to struggle for victory in their spiritual lives.  We ought to use sports to bring honor to God and train soldiers of the cross.

“Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory.” – General Douglas MacArthur