We do not mind hearing sins condemned that we do not like, but we want our own lives left alone. We agree that God should be first in our lives and that we should avoid that which keeps us from Jesus. That is, we agree until something reaches our own hearts. For example, I recently noticed that more and more good Christians were missing church to attend sporting events–whether a professional sporting event or their own child’s practice.
While sports can be good and beneficial, they can also creep into our hearts as idols, if we are not careful. How many Christians are much more at ease talking about yesterday’s football game than the Sermon on the Mount? How many parents are much more comfortable coaching their child’s sport than teaching Sunday school? How many conversations and thoughts immediately after church center around football games rather than the word of God? Simply have a church football party and compare the church members’ attendance of that event to the Wednesday night prayer meeting. Football wins. God loses.
During revivals, when people turn to God, sporting events have not been well attended, for people’s thoughts are on God and eternity and they do not care so much for games and entertainment. If we turn away from love of sports during revivals–when people are “saturated with God,” as Duncan Campbell called revival, why do we defend our love of sports and insist that sports is not an idol to many Christians?
Sports ministries can be good. People have turned to Jesus during these ministries; however, when have we turned to the Bible to see if Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles taught or practiced such forms of ministry? When did they ever try to attract the world by offering them the entertainment of the world? We like to begin with our culture and our loves and wonder how we can use them for God. We like to figure out how we can take our worldly passions, put a Christian twist on them, and call them Christian events because we pray first or invite someone to church. Of course, that does not make an event Christian or not, but it is amazing how often we begin and end with what we already love and do–with what the world loves and does–rather than giving up the things of the world to follow Jesus fully.
May we begin (or continue if you do already) to love Jesus more and the things of the world less. Let us go back to the Bible and adjust our lives and events to how God intends things to be—not take our passions and try to justify them and force God into them. If we have time for television but not for God, if we have time for sports but not to read the Bible–then we can consider those things idols in our lives. May we have no idols in our own hearts and lives! Even that which can be used for good can also be a stumbling block to ourselves or others, tripping us up from entering a life lived fully for God. Sports is just one example of many things in our modern culture and society that can have a wrong place in our hearts. Let us be sure that Jesus has full control of us and our hearts.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up (I Corinthians 10:23).