Each Week Millions of Christians Worship at the Shrine of a False god Called Sports
North Americans are consuming sports on an unprecedented scale. In 2006, Americans spent over $17 billion on tickets to sports contests and $90 billion on sporting goods. Sports magazines take up prime space on bookstore shelves.
The granddaddy of them all, Sports Illustrated, sells 13.2 million a month. Less than a century ago, most Christians considered sports a cancer on their spiritual life. Today Christian athletes are hugely popular. Boxers make the sign of the cross before knocking their opponents senseless.
Whenever a microphone is shoved into their faces, everyone from basketball, to track and field stars first say they wish to thank God for their success in creaming their opponent. Pastors make timely sports metaphors into their sermons. Even famous athletes are at times invited to pulpits to tell how their faith helps them compete.
Let me tell you a little story.
It’s been about thirteen years now since I’ve owned a tv. Then back in 2004 a very good friend and church member invited me along with about six other friends who are also adventists, to watch the superbowl.
There we were watching the excitment unfold.
We cheered as the great big defensive linemen pounded the quarter backs into the ground, knocking them almost senseless.
We marvelled as the wide receiver leapted high into the air to receive a magnificent pass, only to have his legs almost broken in a brutal tackle as he came down with his catch.
We even celebrated with the star running back as he danced in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. Needless to say we enjoyed the game, but with little twinges of a guilty conscience at viewing the violence and mayhem that was going on the gridiron.
Then it was halftime.
As Seventh-day Adventist Christians we weren’t really interested in watching Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake sing and dance at the halftime show.
We just wanted to watch football.
But because there was nothing else to do, and so between stuffing ourselves with potato chips and fizzy drinks, we lazily kept an eye on the tv.
And then it happened!
We were all sitting there in comfy chairs watching the show and chatting, when it happened. It happened so fast that I wasn’t sure what I saw. I looked around at the others, and they all had their mouth opened.
With my mouth half filled with Lay’s potato chips I stuttered, “Was it my imagination, or did I see Janet Jackson’s breast pop out of her costume?”
It turned out that I was not the only one, but milllions of people around the globe also saw that awful moment. From that moment, I swore never again to watch football, much less the annual Superbowl.
I have not watched a football game from that fateful day in February 2004 to now. I learned my lesson well.
(I also laid off Lay’s potato chips. They are diet poison!)
If there is any doubt about the godlessness of professional sports, witness the behaviour of both fans and atheletes riotous celebrations. Year after year we witness television news reports of fans taking to the street and rioting after an NBA, NFL, or a Stanley Cup victory.
It seems that organized sports, played at almost every level, too often bring out the worst in us. Recruiting scandals, under the table payoffs, and academic cheating, all perpetrated in the name of athletic excellence, have become such regular features on the sports pages that we have come to accept them as part of the Sunday afternoon’s entertainment.
Fighting is so rampant in the National Hockey League that there is now a website devoted to its glorification, highliting the fights andfighters.
Organized sports is narcissistic, materialistic, violent, sensationalist, coarse, racist, sexist, brazen, raunchy, hedonistic, body destroying, and militaristic.
And no true follower of Christ should be a part of it, nor watch it. There, I’ve said it! The sports culture lifts up values in sharp contrast with what Christians for centuries have understood as the embodiment of the gospel.
There are simply no easy, straight-faced, intellectually respectable answers for how Seventh-day Adventists can justify the physical aggressiveness of sports with Christ’s message of servanthood and generosity.
Adventist Christians have come to embrace a cultural activity that stands at odds to their faith. Despite their protests to the contrary, athletes are considered role models to both young, and older minds.
Many professional sports heroes today are a far cry from being positive role models. Steroids, illegal drugs, and alcohol seem to be the norm. It is common to hear of players raping women, cheating on, or even beating their wives, attacking fans, and even assaulting people.
Yet these players still keep playing and receiving millions of dollars annually. No one can serve two masters: either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
We cannot serve God and sports.
Does the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control fit in with sacks, zone blitzes, uppercuts, and slam dunks?
Can we cheer for Jesus Christ on Sabbath, and then
turn around and cheer for LeBron James, or Serena Williams, on Sunday?
Many fanatics live for the January Super Bowl, March Madness, Augusta in April, and the Boys of Summer; or they simply wishwinter’s hockey ice would never melt.
Extreme examples of sports fanaticism includes spectators painting their faces with team colors, wearing bizarre hats, college alumni signaling their loyalty by plastering the family car with team logos.
Sports distract men and women from dealing with the important spiritual and relational subjects for which God calls us to pay close and continuous attention.
If many Christians took half the time they spend watching sports on television and invested it in service to those in need,witnessing, Bible study, and prayer, guess what? Their spiritual lives would soar.
Imagine if the month of March that features the national monument called March Madness, which is the national college basketball tournament in the US, were used as a month of outreach to the poor.
Imagine what a tremendous difference that would make!
A few years ago, an incident occured that shocked my Adventist community to its core. It seems at an inter church basketball game which was attended by hundreds of church members, a fight broke out between the players.
It seems that rivalry between the two teams became hot to point of boiling over into a fight on the basketball floor. The incredible part to the story is that the two coaches who were also youth pastors, also got into the fisticuffs.
Each July our local Seventh-day Adventist community looks forward to fierce track and field competition between all the local churches.
One year a church was accused of bringing in a professional athlete, a ringer, for the much anticipated hundred meters dash.
Imagine that, Seventh-day Adventists cheating at sports! Do you think that Jesus would approve? Competition is in opposition to the working of the Holy Spirit. Competition originated with Lucifer.
Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Lucifer felt that he wanted to be like God. He wanted to be the best. He wanted to be number one.
Competition is all about exaltation of self. It’s about seeking to stomp down the opposition. The spirit of God seeks a servant to be humble and not to rule or be a master over someone.
Luke 9:48 “… for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.”
The difference between the spirit of God and the spirit of Satan is that the spirit of the devil seeks to dominate and rule. The spirit of God seeks to be lowly and a servant.
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Php 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
You’ll notice that Jesus was equal with God and he
didn’t desire it or count it a thing to be equal with the father. Unlike Satan who wanted to be like the most high.
Christ who was like the most high, took upon himself the form of a man, and was a servant, made lower than the angels, and even a servant to us.
This is the opposite to the spirit of competition. The bottom line is this, we are called to be a special people, a royal priesthood. We must be a people who are not to conform to this world, but to transformed by the renewing of our minds.
We need to close our ears to the call of the false god of organized sports, and listen to the call of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that there will only be one true God in our lives, and that is Jevohah, the great God of heaven and earth.