My friend posted recently she was excited that baseball season had begun again. Both her sons were on teams, as well as her nephew. Four to five times during the week they will be at a ball field for one of the games and this includes Saturday and Sunday. “I love it,” she said. “It’s what we do. During baseball season we live at the ball park. We don’t get much else done, but hey, who cares? I get to sit, watch the game, drink tea (or other drink) and relax. What a great way to live!”
In some ways, I was completely appalled at the perspective. It’s great kids enjoy sports. It’s wonderful exercise and competitive recreation. The problem begins when our lives are driven by a calendar revolving around sports as the most important thing in our lives!
In a convoluted kind of way, we've made sports a ‘god’. Anything we put before Him, is idolatry. God doesn’t want to be second in our lives. He requires his rightful place of first. But, say the nay sayers, “I'm part of the team. I have to be there. They count on me! If I don’t show up, I’ll be kicked off the team and besides, there isn’t an “I” in team,” we are reminded. “It’s about everyone who signed up!”
There’s a lot to be said for loyalty. It’s important to be part of a team, doing our share, and contributing in whatever way we are able. But our spiritual lives get neglected when we have our priorities skewed with sports (or anything else) we put ahead of God. We are instructed in scripture to not neglect meeting with other Believers for fellowship. Our spiritual exercise is as important – more important – than any physical exercise. Our Spiritual health will fail if we don’t recognize the need for keeping God in the forefront of our lives.
As adults, we are quick to turn on the television to catch a game, race or other sports match we enjoy. Sports rule in many homes during the week and very often on the weekend, including Sunday. This concretes in our children’s minds how important sports are to us. For our children, who often want to emulate us, decisions become complicated because we are sending mixed signals.
When our young ones are interested in playing sports, they should participate when they can, and be part of a team. Sometimes, however, we must get creative with choices. We need to make sure our child understands spiritual priorities; then a conversation with the coach might need to take place. It certainly doesn’t mean he’ll cooperate or respect our priorities, but it’s worth trying. Sometimes, it requires a hard decision, both the coach and child, will not be pleased with. It may take finding another sport or activity to replace the one that directly affects worship time or a spiritual activity. Other times it requires making the decision that we spend time with our children in an activity or sport, even though it is not part of an organized team.
I encourage you to evaluate your connection with sports—or anything else that comes first—before God. Does your ‘relationship’ interfere with your relationship with Christ? Where does your ‘loyalty’ reign? Does your ‘devotion’ send mixed signals to your children? Can they see your allegiance to Christ as being first…….or is He second…..or third, below a sports event or other activity?