This week, we've examined the benefits and dangers of sports from the perspective of Christianity. If you missed those posts, I'd encourage you to go back and read them, as they are the basis for the practical ideas I'm going to provide here.
As Christians, how can we respond to sports in a way that honors God and allows us to enjoy them without sin or shame?
First, do enjoy sports as a good gift from a kind and gracious God. Like we said at the beginning of the week, sports are a wonderful opportunity to honor God with our bodies. At their best, they provide us pure enjoyment without the sin that often accompanies worldly recreation. They can promote community and teach us values that are consistent with the character of God. So don't be afraid to play or to watch sports.
Second, intentionally praise God before, during, and after playing sports (or watching them). Go beyond mere participation and make a point of remembering the God who provides us with every good gift (James 1:17). Thank Him for healthy bodies, innocent fun, the chance to play and rest, and the weather that allows us to do so.
Third, play and watch in moderation. Don't let football or any other sport become an idol. If you think about your favorite team more than you think about God, then it's an idol. If you watch so many games that your family suffers, it's an idol. If your city-league softball game is the most important event in your week, then sports has become your idol. Set some boundaries around how many games you play or watch each week, in order to be sensible and disciplined.
Fourth, don't take sports too seriously. This relates to the issue of idolatry. This is going to rub some people the wrong way, but I'll say it anyway: it's just a game. It's meant to be fun -- it's supposed to be viewed with a light-hearted attitude. If you find yourself in angry confrontations with other fans, or if your team's loss leaves you depressed and unable to focus on work, you're probably taking it too seriously. If you scream at your kid's t-ball ref or encourage people to cheat in order to win, you're taking it too seriously. The game is not as significant as your character, your relationships, or your spiritual life. Remember Paul's exhortation in 1 Timothy 4:8.
Finally, encourage the best aspects of sports while discouraging the worst. Reconsider which sports you watch and promote -- are they filled with excessive violence, cheating, or drug abuse? Do they entertain an audience through the exploitation or abuse of young men and women? If so, should we actively encourage such behavior by buying tickets or patronizing advertisers? I'm being deliberately vague, so each person can work the specifics out before God. Still, we must submit our entertainment habits to Him, even if that submission is painful.
Hopefully this short series has been somewhat helpful as we evaluate the relationship between sports and the Christian life. What other questions or concerns would your raise about this subject?
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This isn't a theological subject, but it is an issue that affects college ministry significantly.
I ran across this interesting article about how the increasing cost of higher education is leading to deeper student loan debt for college graduates. Consequently, some are asking whether the education is worth the price tag.
Over the course of one's career, a college graduate will likely make more money than a person without a college degree. But if it takes ten or fifteen years to pay off the loans, is the extra income enough to overcome the cost of the debt? Also, is it worth going into a great deal of debt for a degree that's less likely to pay big bucks (for example, the ones on this list)?
I'm very curious to hear from my readers on this issue:
- Do you think the price of college pays for itself over time?
- For those majors that don't produce high-paying jobs, are there non-economic benefits that compensate for the low pay?
- What other factors ought to be considered in this discussion?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!