To even the most casual observer, our society has developed – how can I put this - an intense relationship with sports. There are entire networks of television programming dedicated to sports. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent every year on tickets, merchandise, and equipment. Some people spend hours every day watching games on TV, checking scores on their phones, and getting caught up in the excitement of sports. At least we are honest enough to call it “March Madness”:)
It would be safe to say that sports are one of many “idols” in our culture, wouldn’t you agree? While they aren’t inherently wrong, they are packaged and presented as something that is worthy of our “worship,” and they can easily take the place of God in our hearts and minds if we aren’t careful. In many cases, they already have.
Is it possible for a youth minister to write a balanced, biblical article that addresses the issue of sports without making a mess of it? When I say the word “mess,” I’m talking about a situation where everyone gets upset, offended, and defensive of their current position on this issue instead of honestly considering what the Bible might have to say.
Is it possible to talk about sports from a biblical perspective in a way that generates light instead of heat? At this point, I’m really not sure; but as the writer of this article, I will do my part. I have carefully and prayerfully considered the words that I will write and I can assure you that they come from a place of love, concern, and a desire to help God’s people get to heaven.
The rest will be up to you.
I’m writing this article because I believe that it is important and worthy of our consideration, especially this time of year. I believe that God would like to “weigh in” on something that has become such a strong force in the lives of so many of His people. So I simply ask that you open your minds and your Bibles, and let’s reason together.
There are two basic “extremes” that teens/parents can take when we think about the issue of sports, whether we communicate them out loud or not:
EXTREME #1: Christian teens should avoid sports altogether, because they will inevitably conflict with worship, youth activities, and other opportunities for spiritual growth. The commitment that is required for teens to participate in sports is too often in direct opposition to their commitment to Christ, therefore, they shouldn’t get involved in them at all.
EXTREME #2: Sports trump everything, including worship, youth activities, and other opportunities for spiritual growth. When a teen or a parent makes a commitment to sports, that commitment comes first. If they have to miss worship, bible class, youth activities, and other spiritual opportunities, that’s ok, and they shouldn’t be judged for it. Sports are not “God,” but it’s ok if they become “a god."
Of course, there is a large amount of room in between these two extremes, and most Christians who are involved in sports probably occupy a place on this diverse stretch of “middle ground.” In fact, most Christians probably sincerely believe that their particular “plot” of middle ground is, in fact, the right approach (or they would at least argue that their approach isn’t “wrong”).
Where do you and your family stand on this balance between God and sports? Why and how have you arrived at your particular conclusions? Is it possible that you might need to reevaluate these issues? Next week, we will take a detailed look at some of the questions we might need to ask ourselves in this area of our lives.