Category Archives: Theology

Tour Stars on Golf and God

With the U.S. Open this week, I thought you might find this video from CNN interesting. It includes 2012 U.S.Open Champion, Webb Simpson, 2009 British Open Champion, Stewart Cink, and fellow PGA Tour players Keven Streelman, Ben Crane, and Aaron Baddeley speak about how their faith in Christ impacts them as professional golfers.

I especially like what Ben Crane said – “It is not like a Jedi mind trick that if I act like ‘Hey this (my golf game) is for God.’ then I will play better, but in actuality if my heart is right I am more at peace and life certainly works better from there.”

He makes it clear that what is important is the status of my heart in answer to the question – “Am I here to bring glory to me or to God?”

 

Misapplication of Scripture in Sports Ministry

Roger D. LipePARTNERS IN MINISTRY

By Roger D. Lipe, Sports Chaplain/Character Coach/Sports Mentor

After having delivered hundreds of pre-game chapel talks, having lived through over nineteen sports seasons as a sports chaplain, having heard and read many years of post-game remarks by ecstatic players and more recently, a few years of tweets and Facebook posts, I have endured the misapplication of many verses of scripture to sporting situations. More often than not a player or coach is claiming a promise he or she sees in the Bible and hears it as God’s absolute guarantee of victory. More often than not, that scripture has nothing to do with such matters. A few of the more egregious examples follow.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

I Disagree With Tim Tebow. Don’t Hate Me.

tim-tebow-300x191Allow me to explain.

I read this article detailing Tim Tebow’s recent speech at Liberty University and I came across this one line:

“In the end, football is just a silly game. Greatness comes from serving.”

Is it possible to say “Amen” and outwardly sigh at the same time? If so, that’s what I did when I read this quote.

Before I go any further, I must acknowledge my own ignorance when addressing this quote. I don’t know the greater context in which it was uttered. Nonetheless, I think you’ll see my perspective stands up.

On the one hand, I fully affirm that true greatness does not come directly from football. Tebow is right to point this out given how prone we all are to make sports an idol. Undoubtedly, his inspiration for saying this comes from Luke 22:24-27 and Mark 10:45. Amen to all of that.

Where I disagree is where Tebow says that football is just a silly game. Tebow does a disservice to the intersection of sports and Christianity when he says this. As I’ve written before, when you say something like this, it creates a false dichotomy. Behind that saying is a belief that says, “Some things are important and some things are not. Football is not important.

3 Views on God’s Intervention in the Outcome of Games

This post has been inspired by our ongoing series: Does God Care Who Wins as well as the Sports Illustrated article: In the Fields of the Lord. Much of what is written below comes from Bob Schindler.

There are three views one can have when trying to reconcile God and his involvement in the outcome of sports.

1. God is an uninvolved spectator.

This position is influenced by deism. God (or a higher power) put the world into motion and has stepped back and is no longer intimately involved in the activities of the world, including human beings. Under this view, God does not care about who wins or loses a game because he doesn’t care about anything. There’s nothing worth intervening for.

2. God cares about some things and doesn’t care about others.

This is the view that I’ve found a majority of Christians hold. In other words, God cares about the “really important” stuff like cancer or sex slavery but he could care less what color shirt I picked out today to wear or which route I drove to work. Under this view, God couldn’t care less about sports. The outcome of games is just about as important to God as what brand of toothpaste I use. Of course he wouldn’t intervene. This view creates a dichotomy of “sacred” and “secular” buckets in our lives though. How do you determine which is “sacred” and “secular”? What Scriptural support does this position have? When people view a majority of their life as “secular” or unimportant, what impact does that have on them spiritually? This view leads to some uncomfortable questions with no good answers.

3. God cares about everything and is intimately involved in everything.

This view affirms the sovereignty of God and displays how God values everything. No “sacred” and “secular” buckets here. Everything is sacred. Nothing is too small for God. Tying your shoes, wearing your clothes, which toothpaste you use, and yes, even the outcome of games. If one can eat and drink for the glory of God then surely one can play sports for the glory of God (as well as everything else–1 Corinthians 10:31). This view says God very much cares about the outcomes of games. Does God intervene in the outcome of games? Yes. Otherwise He is not sovereign. “The Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission.” As A.W. Pink says, “To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is ‘The Governor among the nations’ (Psalm 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best.” And I would add, “determining the course of games.” Why does he do this? As John Piper says, “God’s first commitment is to His own glory, and this is the basis for ours. God’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy His glory forever.

Sports & Theology: Ray Allen

At 37 years old, most NBA players have been retired for years. Not Ray Allen. He is still playing at a high level coming off the bench for the Miami Heat. Known for his sweet shooting stroke, Ray Allen will certainly be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Much of his success as a player can be attributed to his work ethic. He’s known for his great conditioning and relentless pregame shooting routine. In NBA history, there is perhaps no one who has worked harder than Ray.

Let’s set the scene: In 2008, Ray Allen was interviewed by Jackie MacMullan for The Boston Globe. Here’s a short excerpt (bolding mine):

Everyone wishes they could shoot like Ray. They tell him that all the time. They are envious, they say, of his God-given talent.

“An insult,” says Allen. “God could care less whether I can shoot a jump shot.”

When I first read this, it reminded me of Lance Armstrong’s quote from years ago when he said that God had nothing to do with him beating cancer. It was only because of his hard work that he was able to overcome. I wonder if that’s where Ray’s motivation came from when said the above words. I wonder if by attributing his skill to God, if he felt like it took away from all of his hard work. Or, perhaps, his perspective is that God couldn’t care about something as insignificant as a jump shot in basketball.

Regardless of his motivation, Ray’s theology expressed here is popular among culture–even among Christians. We think, God has bigger and better things to do rather than waste his time in something as small and meaningless as sports. If that’s true, how do we determine what’s too small for God to get involved with? Just try it some time. Start categorizing the “important” things in your life with the “unimportant.” You’ll begin to see, it’s much harder than you think.

All this to say, I disagree with this sentiment that God doesn’t care about a jump shot.

When you create lists of “important” and “unimportant” things in life, it creates a sacred/secular dichotomy. This is dangerous for the life of the Christian. This sacred/secular divide is responsible for the “cultural Christianity” we see in the United States–where you’re a Christian at church on Sunday but Monday-Saturday, God has no influence on your day-to-day life.

This sacred/secular divide is not supported by Scripture. Read these words from Colossians 1:15-18:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For byhim all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

You’ll notice the word “some” does not occur in this passage. The word that does appear over and over is “all.” God is before, in, and through all things. As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” That most certainly includes sports. That also includes jumpshots.

It’s hard for us to comprehend but God can be glorified even through what we consider the most menial tasks. Bob Schindler explains from 1 Corinthians 10:31:

Do you see what this means? Paul says that the way I do what I do can actually bring fame, recognition, honor to the greatness of God – no matter what it is that I do. This means everything means something – when it is done for the glory of God. This glory, this fame is the unifying, the integrating principle.

Historically, when cultures have gotten this – the fact that everything is “sacred