Sport pervades and dominates our society. Every newspaper and every news broadcast devotes great amounts of space and time to what is happening in the latest basketball, football, and baseball games, as well as to what is going on in the numerous other sports both here in the U.S. and around the world. Sport is no longer simply a recreational activity, an activity which provides relaxation and fitness. Instead, sport has become a god. The non-Christian world lives for and worships sport – it is “sports crazy”.
But is the Christian world any different? Have you ever asked yourself whether you, as a believer in Christ, are just as wrapped up in the sport of this day and age as is the “sports crazy” world? Do you, when reading the press, turn first to the sports section? Do you find that you can’t do without watching sports events either daily or weekly on television? Do you spend too much time in actual participation? Do you find that a great part of your conversations with family, friends, and work mates revolves around certain games which you either played, saw, heard about, or read about the night before?
If you, through honestly answering these questions, find that you said “Yes” to one or more of them, then you will recognize that a definite problem exists in relation to sport. Maybe you will even have to consider the possibility that you also are “sports crazy”.
The problem that we confront is that too much emphasis is placed on sport, and sad to say, even by many who profess to be God’s children. Too much time, money, and effort is expended in the pursuit of sport.
For many of us, the fact that we consume too much time and effort in sport does not arise from our being ignorant of the proper place and emphasis that sport should have. We know that sport should be kept in the proper perspective. We know that we mustn’t get all wrapped up in it. We know that sport should not even be at all important in our lives, for “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Confession, Shorter Catechism 1).
Yet many of us still seem to find sport essential and are unwilling to admit that we make it important in our lives.
What each of us needs to do, therefore, is to ask ourself, “How significant do I make sport in my life?” We need to take a serious look at how much time, money, and effort we devote to it. We need to do so because of God’s command to live antithetically – we must not be like and become a part of the “sports crazy” world in which we live.
Young people, is sport so prominent in your life that you are more keen to know player and game information than you are to know your catechism or Bible memory work? Is this also true of some not so young people – of some adults? And parents, do you allow your children to devote too much time and attention to sport? Are you and your family as eager to spend time reading and studying the Bible as you are to watch a game on TV? Are you able to speak easily and frequently concerning sport activities but not concerning spiritual things?
Are we as keen to go to church activities, such as worship services, societies, and lectures, as we are to travel many miles in order to go to a sports event? Why was it that attendance at a basketball final in Detroit a few months ago was in the “thousands” whereas attendance at a conference on Christian Witnessing was only in the “hundreds”? And why is it that sometimes church activities are either postponed or canceled because of certain sports activities?
When we evaluate our involvement according to time, it is not simply the case that as long as we spend more time involved in spiritual things than in sport then all is okay. The whole purpose of our life is not the enjoyment of the things of this world. God has given us life so that we seek and serve Him in all that we do and busy ourselves in His work. Our life in this world is a pilgrimage in order to prepare us for our eternal home in glory. Our greatest concern must therefore be our spiritual welfare. If we keep this in mind, then, and then only, will we be able to realize that sport should not be an important part of our life on this earth.
Now I am not saying that sport is bad in itself, for it can have a place in a Christian’s life. In a Christian atmosphere, sport can be useful, worthwhile, and advantageous. In such a setting, there is opportunity for Christian fellowship, for relaxation, and for caring for our God-given body.
But I believe it is wrong to say that sport is a vital part of a Christian’s life. And it is wrong to make sport so important in our life that God’s kingdom suffers because of it.
Another problem with sport is that it can be very expensive. Not only is it often costly to participate in sport, but it can also be very costly to travel to games and to buy tickets for them. Because of this, involvement in sport can draw on funds which could be better used for more profitable causes. Perhaps if less emphasis were placed on sport and on the need for modern equipment, the financial burden of running our schools would be lightened.
Finally, we should also realize that when we follow and attend the sports of this world, we are associating ourselves with the “sports crazy” world and not living an antithetical and godly life – a life of separation from this world. Many of us even make the greedy, worldly ballplayers our heroes. Clearly this is wrong, for many of these “heroes” lead immoral lives, a fact of which we are all aware when we hear about men such as Magic Johnson and Mike Tyson. And all of them desecrate God’s holy sabbath day, for they play their sports on Sunday. Shouldn’t we be afraid to allow ourselves and our children to idolize such ungodly people?
We would do well to learn, remember, and use as our guide the words of Christ in Luke 16:15b; “for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Examine your devotion to sport, and ask yourself whether or not you are seeking and following after something which is hateful and detestable to God!