A quantity of years in the past I turned into a speaker at a camp for younger humans. When the first institution recreation time got here, one of the leaders started by means of telling a parable based totally on Genesis 1-three. He defined the joys of gambling games in the Garden of Eden where the emphasis become surely on the joy of play. But at some point, the serpent entered the garden and tempted the Eden-dwellers with the idea of factors. They gave in to the temptation and commenced keeping score in their games and this brought about all types of evils – competition, lust for triumphing, dishonest, anger and fights. They misplaced the simple joy of play.
The chief advised this parable to let the young human beings recognize that this week in the camp they would be added to non-competitive video games. There were no points, no winners or losers, just the joy of play. But there was one critical hassle – the games had been completely and completely dull. Day after day much less and much less of the young people showed up for the game time in order that on the last one there were only a handful of younger human beings there.
Is this an accurate portrayal of a theology of sports? Obviously, I don’t assume so. I’d like to provide a brief and vast theology of sports activities. If you don’t like that name you may consider it as, “Why we need to watch the Super Bowl!”
History can be summed up in 3 phrases: introduction, fall, redemption. So whilst you are looking at the theology of an trouble you need to ask: What is its relation to or reflection of introduction, of the fall, of redemption? In thinking about the issue of sports activities, I even have brought two similar phrases to amplify our attention – incarnation, and salvation (each that are, of direction, tied to advent, fall, and redemption).
Creation – God ought to have created the whole thing to be gray and serviceable. Rather, He created an amazing variety of shade, length, shape, smell, texture, sounds, and tastes. Why did He do that? He did it in order that the introduction could be a mirrored image of His individual and, particularly, His splendor. It is a masterpiece of function and shape. The creation is a work of art.
Art is now and again the notion of as which includes two kinds: visible art – like painting, sculpture, structure, and, appearing artwork – like drama, track, dancing. The Lord covered both visual and appearing artwork in the introduction. Visual Art: flowers, mountains, trees; Performing Art: oceans and rivers, planetary orbits, clouds. Some matters in creation combine the 2.
Sports are a reflection of this creative pastime of the Lord. They also integrate visible artwork (painted fields/courts, crew colors, and symbols) and acting arts (the actual play). Sports replicate the function and form of creation. There is beauty in a play this is run to perfection, in a nicely-thrown ball, in a diving trap, in turning a double play. Those things can bring exhilaration and happiness due to the fact they may be a reflection of the manner the sector turned into created to be. They are a show of art (or artistry, if you opt for).
The Lord additionally created matters in a particular order, no longer in a haphazard manner, and He positioned in the advent legal guidelines or policies through which nature operates. Sports also have an order to them and have regulations by means of which they function. Just as there are results for rebelling against the created order (inclusive of brushing off gravity), so there are effects for no longer following the policies in sports. Sports replicate the character and concepts of the creation. As in nature, this reflection, whilst carried out properly, honors the Lord and offers the fan pleasure.
Fall – In the autumn, guy rebelled by means of sin and the curse which resulted from that fall touches every a part of each thing – there’s not anything that escapes. This means that we would assume to look evidence of the autumn in sports activities and, of direction, we do. There are sins of mindset as well as sins of action.
The deadliest of those sins is the idolatry of sports – whilst it holds the highest area within the affection of the heart and in the taking into account the mind. When lifestyles are planned around whilst video games are performed or when someone’s entire outlook is impacted with the aid of whether his team wins or loses, he has crossed the line into an unhealthy and sinful obsession.
There also are other incorrect attitudes – while prevailing becomes the most effective thing that matters when someone will do some thing it takes to be successful, while private glory turns into the quit-all, while human beings emerge as smug or irritated. These are all sins of the autumn. The fall is meditated in sports by actions such as the usage of steroids, of fixing games, of corking bats, of bench-emptying brawls, and a bunch of other matters.
Incarnation – We are embodied beings and the incarnation validates that our bodies are more than simple boxes for our souls. Even our eternal country will encompass our bodies – glorified bodies but our bodies though. The Christian existence isn’t approximately condemning the body, however, bringing it into subjection to honor the Lord.
Sports are one of the matters that help us to do that. Playing a sport requires discipline and the disciplining of the frame for sports activities can deliver over into our religious lives. Sports require determination, behind schedule gratification, a toughening-up of the body. Sports also can teach the way to work with a team, the way to publish to authority, a way to inspire those now not as naturally proficient as others, a way to hit difficult. And they teach patience. Even time on the bench can be sanctifying.
Sports are one way that we honor the fact and truth of the incarnation and glorify God via the use of our bodies in God-honoring ways.
Salvation – The records of salvation is a drama. A drama, to be powerful, depends at the least on expertise, motion, and timing. In the drama of salvation, the Lord had a game-plan, know-how, before the beginning of time. At the introduction, this sport-plan became put in motion, what we recognize because of the people and events of unfolding history. And it becomes all executed consistent with God’s timing – Galatians tells us that Christ got here in the fullness of time. That drama continues nowadays. It is what C.S. Lewis referred to as the authentic myth.
Today, actors/actresses in drama want to understand their lines (understanding), they need to realize in which they’re imagined to be in a scene (motion) and that they need to recognize when they are to play their component and say their lines (timing). Great drama additionally has that experience of being a true fantasy.
This dramatic belief of expertise, motion and time is reflected in sports activities. The know-how is visible within the plays and strategies that are part of sports. The movement is visible within the sporting out of these techniques and they’re most effective a success if the timing of all and sundry worried is accurate. Sports painting drama motion and now have that mythic issue to them. It may be that part of sports enchantment comes from the truth that they’re established in being part of human life. Some could say that sports go beyond leisure and tackle a that means that is large and critical in the lives of individuals who revel in and dedicate time to sports.
The heart of our salvation is the saving work of Christ – he gave himself for us, frame and blood.
Sports are one of the handiest arenas in existence in which you can provide your body for the good of others. Many plays in sports activities – a block, a diving capture, a bodily worrying gymnastic habitual – are the giving up of the frame for the sake of the crew. This is a display of the gospel.
Redemption – Redemption is the satisfaction in recuperation. When that redemption is accomplished absolutely at the consummation it will become glorification – with the intention to be a complete pleasure and unhindered satisfaction. The joys and delights of this existence are gifts of grace. They are in no way absolutely satisfying but they deliver a flavor of what that whole pleasure might be like.
Sports, for the fanatics, are one of those gifts that deliver joy and pleasure (additionally at times disappointment so we learn how to address that during a wholesome and godly manner). They are to be enjoyed in themselves for what they may be – a present of grace. The leisure in no way lasts or is total however it’s miles a taste of that entire satisfaction that causes us to long for extra. So even as a sport may be enjoyed in itself, it factors us to extra than just this temporary amusement; it exhibits the craving for everlasting pleasure. The sports activities fan who acknowledges this more motive is viewing that enjoyment from a biblical perspective. Temporal amusement is a present but it isn’t an cease. When treated as an give up, it borders at the idolatrous. We ought to train our pleasure to be experienced as a part of God’s cause.
Like all other matters in lifestyles, we’re to take sports captive and cause them to obedient to Christ. Sports viewing and sports participation can become transforming sports when we view sports activities as one of the approaches that God is extending to us His grace and in recognizing that it is a method to long for the more pleasure that only Christ can provide.
There is a lot extra that would be said. I have no longer even touched on Paul’s use of sports’ language and his use of sports as a metaphor for the religious life. I even have no longer pointed out how sports may be used as an evangelistic tool to spread the gospel. I have now not noted how sports activities have to blend bodily strength and courage with meekness and love. I actually have no longer mentioned the connection between sports and our religious warfare. But I hope I have given sufficient to make you observed – and perhaps to think about sports a bit in another way than you have earlier than.