How good is it to watch live sport! It is great to be able to watch the best in the business go head to head and show their skills. We get passionate about the game, about the players and about the team. We ride each tackle and are on the edge of our seat during each pass. Being caught up in this fantastic atmosphere, we sometimes forget that these players are human beings, whom God created and loves. The evidence that we forget this is in the way we think and talk about them. Here are two ways we often think and talk about elite athletes.
When someone is so dominant at their sport such as LeBron James, Gary Ablett or Cristiano Ronaldo we often find ourselves idolising them. We get obsessed with them. We want talk about them. We want to buy all their merchandise. We try to copy them. We think they can't do anything wrong. We blindly follow what they do and believe what they say. We actually give them authority in our lives, most of the time subconsciously.
God is the only one whom deserves ultimate authority in our life. When we give it to an athlete we put up an idol in front of God, and yet again reject him. Jonah 2:8 says “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love”.
It's ok to respect elite sports people and marvel at their talent and their character, just be aware of the potential for that appreciation to become an idol. Everything that sports people do and say must be looked at from the perspective of the Bible. This gives God ultimate authority in our lives.
2. Speaking poorly
Perhaps more common is talking and thinking about elite sports people like they are commodities. This is so common even at local sport. The problem with this is that it dehumanises the person. It says we only value you for your skill. Imagine if that’s how God saw us! Thankfully because of Jesus he doesn’t. It’s ok to say that you don’t think such and such is good enough or that they should be dropped, however it’s when we fail to think about that player as a human that we have moved away from right thinking. We have to remember that sports people are just like you and me; they have emotions, they have hopes and dreams they still need to do number 2s, they love being with their families, they get sick, they feel pressure and they make mistakes. Yes, some of them may be far wealthier than we can ever hope to be (although that is only a very small percentage) but they are still humans with failings, who are created in God’s image.
There is so much more to athletes then their skill. We should look at them the way God does and not encourage the world’s perspective of viewing them as replaceable commodities.
Thanking God for their talent
When you are watching sport, take a moment to marvel at the skill, persistence, leadership and other great character traits that are on display, and thank the great God who has given those athletes these traits. It's awesome that we as the spectator get to experience them on show.
Finally, pray for our Christian brothers and sisters and pray for the churches that are teaching them, encouraging them, and growing them. The elite sporting environment is such a hard environment to be a Christian in, but it is also an important one in which we need more Christians representing Jesus, and participating in Sport God's Way.
By Zac Metcalfe