By Nate Lewis – Area Director
As always, God showed up at FCA Camps this summer. At several of our camps we started off with a series of questions that I would like you to consider now:
- What are some things that you care about when you compete?
- What are your feelings toward teammates who are competing for the same position that you are on the team?
- What are feelings you have had in the past toward your opponent?
Take time to analyze your responses. Do they reflect Jesus as the most important thing to you?
Now take time to consider this question:
“What if every time we compete – whether it be in a practice or a game – because of a love for God and people, we wanted to draw the absolute best out of them…every time?”
Interesting question to think about right? What if in the process of pursuing this “Christ like” goal, we ended up losing the game or our position on the team? The thing we must consider is that the ultimate goal as a Christian athlete is to be “Christ like”. Consider the question Jesus was posed with in Matthew 22:36-40:
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Mt 22:36–40). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Essentially the answer Jesus had to the question was to love God and to love people. So if our goal as a Christian athlete is to be “Christ like” then we ought to consider what it looks like to love God and to love people in the middle of sports. Let’s take a minute to look at the first part of the answer Jesus had – Love God. What would motivate an athlete or coach to love God more than anything else in the middle of a practice or game? Take a look at Ephesians 2:1-10.
How can we…in light of being hopelessly lost in our sin and the consequences of that sin NOT love God more than anything else in the middle of a practice or game in light of the Savior – Jesus – who rescued us from what we deserve by subbing in and taking the punishment for us? For it is by grace we have been saved! And the fruit or result of our genuine desire to love God more than anything is found in our “Christ like” response to every circumstance that sports brings our way…including how we deal with people.
Loving people was the second half to Jesus response to the question he was asked. In order to understand what it looks like to love people in the middle of sports we must first identify who those people are. There are of course our coaches, teammates, and fans…but there are also officials and our opponents. What does it look like to love them if we are to pursue being “Christ like” as our goal? Take a look at Philippians 2:3-11.
When have we ever considered what God might want to do in the life of our opponent or a teammate in the middle of a practice or game? Maybe some have, but Philippians 2:4 is clear:
“4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Php 2:4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The example that Jesus gives us in the following verses is a great picture as to what the fruit or result of this kind of mindset looks like. Jesus certainly didn’t have any kind of selfish ambition when he died on the cross for you and me, instead Philippians 2 shares phrases such as “emptied himself” and “humbled himself” – and that is exactly what we should do when competing against others. We should first of all humble ourselves understanding that we are not the most important thing on the field or court. Secondly we should give everything we have out of a mindset not to humiliate the person you are competing against but to push them to make them better. The best example I have seen of this in the middle of a game was Week 14 of the 2011 NFL season while Tim Tebow was still with the Broncos in their game against the Bears. Take a look:
The message of what Jesus has done on the cross for our sin motivates the Christian athlete to honor God in the middle of their sports. Let us together, as teammates in Christ, passionately pursue “Christ likeness” by loving God and loving people.
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