Competition is the heartbeat of sport. Without it, sport ceases to exist, and all we are left with is exercise. It is important that we think about whether it is ok for us as Christians to participate in competition.
Competition brings out a lot of different characteristics in our current sports culture. Characteristics like perseverance, graciousness, cheating, pride, sacrifice, humility, obsession, glory seeking and arrogance. As you can see some of these things are characteristics that God affirms and that can bring Him glory, and some are not.
So if we put them into categories:
As Christians, we want to strive to rid ourselves of ungodly characteristics.
So the big question is can competition still happen without the list of ungodly characteristics?
Although in our current culture it is acceptable and often expected to have some of these characteristics when we compete, it is still possible to compete without them. It is hard because we are not conforming to the way of the world. But Jesus, our king promises that He will help us, and renew us to be more like Him (Colossians 3:10). Ask Him to help you.
Competition also enables us to experience winning and losing. These things in themselves are not bad or good but its how we view them or how we respond to them that gives them meaning. There is a difference between how our culture traditionally views and responds to winning and losing compared to how a Christian should respond.
Our culture views winning as the ultimate goal.
Christians should view winning as the aim but not the number one goal and ultimately irrelevant (1 Corinthians 9:25).
Our culture responds to winning with arrogance.
Christians should respond to winning with humility (Proverbs 27:2).
Our culture views losing as the worst possible thing.
Christians should view losing as disappointing and not the result we were after, but ultimately irrelevant (1 Corinthians 9:25).
Our culture responds to losing with blame and envy.
Christians should respond to losing with humility and graciousness (Philippians 2:3-4).
As we have looked at, there are two ways in which we can view, respond to, and go about competition. This is where we see that competition gives us a great opportunity. It gives us the opportunity to be different but still competitive. We know the way our culture competes is not God honouring as we have looked at. But it is still possible to compete in a way that is, and in doing so showing people there is a different way, a way that we as Christians strive for because we love Jesus (Matthew 5:16).