A few years ago, I was a speaker at a youth camp. One of the leaders started by sharing a parable that was based on Genesis 1 through 3. He spoke of the joy of playing in the Garden of Eden, where the emphasis was on the joy of the game. The serpent entered the Garden of Eden and lured the Eden-dwellers with his promise of points. They fell prey to the temptation to keep score in their games, which led to all sorts of evils: competition, cheating and anger, as well as lust for winning. They lost the pure joy of playing.
This parable was told by the leader to inform the youth that they would be introduced to non competitive games this week at camp. There were no losers or winners, there was only the joy of playing. The problem was that the games were completely and totally boring. Every day, fewer young people attended the game time. At the last one, there were just a few young people.
Does this accurately portray a sports theology? Evidently, not. Here’s a short and general theology about sports. You can also think of this title as “Why we should be watching the Super Bowl!”
The three main themes of history can be summarized as: Creation, Fall, and Redeem. When you look at the theology behind an issue, you should ask yourself: sunday 999 How does it relate to, or reflect, creation, fall, redemption? To expand my consideration of the topic of sports, I added two words – incarnation, and salvation. Both are tied to creation, fall, and redemption.
God could have made everything gray and usable. Instead, He created great variety in color, size and shape, smell, texture, sound, and taste. This is why He did it. It was so that His creation would reflect His personality and, especially, His beauty. It is a masterpiece in function and form. It is an art work.
Sometimes art is thought to be divided into two categories: visual art, such as painting, sculpture, architecture and performing art, like drama, music, or dancing. Both performing and visual art were included in the creation of the Lord. Visual Art: Flowers, mountains, trees; and Performing Art, oceans, rivers, planetary orbits or clouds. Some creations combine both.
The Lord’s creative activity is reflected in sports. They combine visual art (painted courts, team colors and logos), and performing arts (the actual playing). Sports are a reflection of the function and form that is created. A play that is executed perfectly can be beautiful, whether it is a well-thrown baseball, a diving catch or a double play. These things are a reflection on the world as it was meant to be. They can be described as art or artistry.
Also, the Lord created everything in a particular order and not randomly. He also placed within His creation laws or rules how nature works. They also have a structure and rules that govern sports. As with gravity, there are consequences if you break the order of the creation. Sports reflect the principles and nature of the creation. This reflection, when done right, is like nature and brings joy to the fan.
Fall – Man rebelled against sin in the fall. The curse that followed that fall affects every part of everything – there is no escape. We would expect to see evidence that sports have fallen. There are many sins that can be committed, including those of attitude and actions. The most grave sin is idolatry of sport – when it occupies the highest place in our hearts and minds. If a person’s whole life revolves around whether his team wins or fails, it is dangerous and sinful.
Other wrong attitudes include when winning is all that matters. When a person puts their own success above his or hers, when self-importance becomes the ultimate goal, and when people are arrogant or angry. These are all sins that lead to the fall. These are all sins of the fall.
Incarnation – We are embodied beings, and the incarnation confirms that our bodies can be more than just containers for our souls. Even our eternal state will include bodies, glorified or not. The Christian life does not condemn the body, but brings it under the Lord’s wing to honor Him.
Sport is one way to achieve this. For a spiritual life to be fulfilled, one must practice discipline in order to play a sport. Sport requires determination, patience, and a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. Sport can teach you how to work together, how not to be afraid to challenge authority, how and when to praise others, and how to hit the ground running. They also teach patience. Even a few minutes on the bench can be a blessing.
Sport is one way we can honor the truth and reality of the incarnation. We also glorify God through our bodies being used in God-honoring manners.
Salvation – The story of salvation is a drama. Dramas are only as effective as their knowledge, timing, and motion. The drama of salvation was based on the Lord’s game-plan. This game-plan was in motion at the creation, and we now know the people and events that made up the history. It was all in God’s timing. Galatians tells you that Christ arrived in the fullness and time. The drama continues today. C.S. It is what C.S.
Actors/actresses in drama today need to know their lines (knowledge), where they should be in a scene (motion), and when they are required to say their lines (timing). Dramatists who are truly great have the ability to feel like a true myth.
Sports reflect this dramatic idea of motion, knowledge and time. Sports are full of strategies and plays that reflect the knowledge. They are successful only if everyone involved has the right timing. Sports are dramatized and have a mythic quality. Perhaps part of the appeal of sports comes from their universality and inclusion in human life. Many would argue that sports transcend entertainment to have a significant and meaningful role in the lives and daily activities of those who love and dedicate their time to them.
Our salvation lies in Christ’s saving work – he died for us, both body and soul.
Sports are the only place in your life where you can give your body to the benefit of others. A lot of sports, such as a block, diving catch, or a rigorous gymnastic routine, require you to give up your body for the good of the team. This is an act of worship.
Redemption – Redemption means the joy in restoration. It is glorification when that redemption is complete at the consummation. That will bring you joy and unhindered delight. These joys and pleasures are grace’s gifts. Although they are not always satisfying, they provide a glimpse of what complete satisfaction will look like.
For fans, sports are a gift that brings joy and delight. Sometimes, we also learn how to handle disappointment in a healthy, godly way. These gifts are meant to be enjoyed as they are, a gift of grace. It is not a lasting or complete enjoyment, but it gives us a taste of the full satisfaction that makes us long for more. While a sport is enjoyable in its own right, it also points us to a greater purpose: it shows the desire for eternal joy and more. A sports fan who sees the greater purpose of their sport is able to view it from a biblical perspective. Temporal enjoyment can be a gift, but it is not the end. It borders on being idolatrous when it is treated as an end. It is important to train our joy so that it can be part of God’s purpose.
As with all things in life, it is our job to make sports obedient to Christ. When we see sports participation and sport viewing as a way God extends His grace to us, it can transform our lives.