01 November 2011

Tearing Down the Sports Idol

This past Sunday morning I challenged our parents to stand boldly this basketball season for God.  I hope that they received this challenge in the spirit of love with which it was given.  Frankly, I am jealous for their devotion to God.  It breaks my heart to watch families erect a new sports idol with each coming season. Around here there are two main patron deities of sports pantheon - baseball in the spring and summer and basketball in the fall and winter.  Football is a close third little god.  

Right now we are at the beginning of the round ball season.  Let me give you a little background. Last year I led our church and local churches to sign a petition asking a neighboring county to start its Sunday basketball games no earlier than 2 pm.  During basketball season this facility holds tournaments practically every weekend and on Sunday. (the week's end is Friday and Saturday, Sunday is the beginning of the week - I hate it when people include Sunday as part of the so-called "week end.")  I digress.  Anyway, the number of signatures collected was disappointing.  But even more disappointing was so many of my fellow pastors who chose not to lead their congregations to participate.  Thanks to the few who did!  I also called the judge executive who is in charge of the county run and operated sportsplex.  He answered my request with contempt and hostility.  Honestly, I was shocked at his response and his lack of professionalism as a public servant.  He was belligerent and illogical in his argument.

Now, here we are a year later.  I can see that appealing directly to those who might accommodate families who want to be in church will not work.  Actually, that's okay.  The only question for me and all Christians is this: Will I honor God with my choices no matter what everyone else is doing? I should not expect this world to cater to my spiritual priorities or even understand them.  However, I can firmly fix my priorities to the glory of God and to teach my children what is most important.

I like sports.  I played sports, and I follow some sports.  I enjoy a ball game on TV when I get the chance, and I enjoy our local schools' games.  My son plays sports, but from day one we told him that sports takes a back seat to God and family. 

I've challenged my parents again to put a fence of protection around Sunday morning.  I've told them without equivocation that they and their kids should be consistently in Sunday school and worship on Sunday morning.  I regret that our world has so little regard for the Lord's Day that it schedules basketball games on Sunday morning and early afternoon.  But the power to choose is with the parents, not the leagues or the coaches or the sportsplexes of America.  Parents must sit down with their children and help them to realize what is most important and then teach them by doing what is most important.  I tell our parents that they are constantly teaching their kids how to prioritize their lives.  The question they need to answer honestly is what are the priorities they are modeling.

I'm praying that some moms and dads, who profess to be committed to Christ, will have the boldness to swim against the stream of culture and allow their kids to miss a few basketball games for God.  I'm tired of watching parents, who are professing Christians, bow down to a game and sacrifice their children on the alter of sports.  I'm grieved to watch families come to church during sports seasons only when there is no conflicting game.  I'm sick in my soul to watch church families habitually choose sport over God when the choice presents itself. 

It's time to repent of our idolatry and tear down the sports idol and smash it into pieces!  It's time to put God first and not just give Him the leftovers.  It's time to decide what is truly most important and live it.     



  1. We are constantly feeding and developing "appetites" in our children. Christian parents need to take a serious look at WHY their children are in organized sports in the first place. Does it help bring the family together or tear it apart? Does it help your children's hearts be turned toward you or their coaches? Does it teach them to be servants and others-centered or to compete to be the best? Can their time be better spent doing activities that keep the family together, teach them servanthood, and learn to have a missional heart? If someone disagrees with you, Brother, and they CLAIM to be a Christian, tell them to show you in Scripture where you are wrong. They will have a hard time defending their beliefs from the Word of God! God bless you for standing up for families.

  2. We Christians gave up the Sunday territory too easily and now it'll be difficult to take back. As a PE teacher and coach, I'm watching the sports idol cast it's influence in other life areas too with little resistance. Our priorities have become compromised and we have to be willing to realign them when that happens. May we have the boldness to do so. Thanks for the challenge!

  3. Well said brother! I agree wholeheartedly with your premise, and think it should be expanded not only to include those parents who lead their kids to honor sports activities over worship on Sunday morning, but also to those who use those activities on the day prior as an excuse to miss. I can't tell you the number of times we have had families miss church because they were involved with high school or local tournaments that kept them out until the wee hours of the morning and then just blew off church in favor of sleeping in. This lack of discipline sends a more dangerous signal to our children that says my physical comfort is more important than worshiping the Lord and being with His people on Sunday.


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