By November 16, 2012 Max Out Blog, News

Often times, the question comes up, “Is that athlete a Christian?” In different terms, we hear the same thing. “After the game last night, I heard this athlete say, ‘First of all, I would like to thank God for the opportunity to play this game.’”

Unintentionally, we are training ourselves and others in what we think a Christian should look and sound like in our culture. As long as we see athletes write scripture on their tape, pray at the center of the field after the game, and mention something even half way spiritual in interviews we lift them up as the pride of all Christianity.

We can look for fruit of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives (Galatians 5:22-23), but ultimately we only have the ability to look upon the outward appearance, while God has the ability to examine the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

This is personally convicting, because I see Christ’s words in Matt 15:8 describing me. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;” I’m a legalist at heart. I try to strictly adhere to rules, with the desire for God and people to think well of me, based on my performance.

Doing Sports God’s Way calls us to pursue the primary goal of conforming to the likeness of Christ, to define winning as maximizing our God given talents toward being like Christ, for Christ to be our number one audience, and to operate out of the motivation of Christ’s love for us on the cross.

Some tangible helps are to write scripture on our tape; seek opportunities to pray to the Lord before, during, and after competition; and testify to the death and resurrection of Christ any time someone asks about practice or a game.

These are all great things God has called us to do, but when we focus on all we have to “do,” this can seem extremely burdensome and falls under Paul’s assessment in Colossians 2:23.

“These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

To our legalistic heart, this could be frustrating. The freedom though comes in the next verse Col 3:1.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

To be raise with Christ is to have faith in the powerful working of God to take the punishment for sin we rightfully deserve, place it upon Jesus completely, and raise Him from the dead three days later. This faith renounces all confidence in any personal performance and clings only to Christ’s righteousness credited to our account, which sets us free from works based approval from God.

If we truly have been raise from death to life with Christ, we are free to worship Him through training and competition. This may very well include the tangible helps previously mentioned. The primary question to ask ourselves is:  “Am I doing this tangible help in efforts to work toward the approval of God or from the approval of God I’ve been given in Christ?”

May he transform our motivation more and more each practice and game!

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