One of the great challenges for Christians today is how to integrate being a follower of Jesus into every aspect of life. Dutch Pastor Abraham Kuyper proclaimed...
“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!”
If every thought and every aspect of our life is to be captive to Christ, then we must wrestle with the question of how our sport is integrated into our faith journey. How can sport be worship?
Passive to Active
“Chariots of Fire” runner, Eric Liddell, expressed this same theology explaining, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” God blesses us through our enjoyment of sport and exercise. When we do these activities, we are tapping into our design to know God and enjoy the gifts He has given us.
However, from my sport science and theology backgrounds I have always wanted to explore how to make this passive mind set, as correct as it is, into an active pursuit.
These are some of my developing thoughts on this topic. My aim is to not give a definitive template but challenge you to consider how you can live every area of your life for Jesus. Two starting points:
Sport has long been a vehicle for mission. There is a long history of the church using sport as a mission to build community. Sport sociology has documented the way many regional towns built their sense of community around the local church’s tennis or cricket clubs.
The problem moving into the 1970’s and 80’s was that because these church sporting clubs lacked a strong theology of sport (and many could argue a theology of Christ) they lost their original focus on mission.
In the past 20 years, there has been a rebirth of this mission with the church being intentional about its use of sport to show its community the love and mercy of Christ. For example, Melbourne’s Christian Soccer Association has moved from a passive sporting league to churches active in their faith and intentional in seeing sport as a mission.
Christians Using Sport
For many Christians who love sport and want to be actively intentional in their faith then sport has been a powerful way to build relationships. For example, Christmas gives them opportunities to write Christmas cards to sporting friends and invite them to Christmas events such as carols.
The idea is to care for and serve the people that God has put in front of us. The deeper theology is that God has blessed us with sport as well as the people of sport. The result is we should worship God by actively linking the two.
Sport as Worship
The link between these two stories is the reminder to be wrestling with how to make every aspect of our life for Jesus. How we play our sport, how we spend our money, how we use our time, how we treat our family and friends: all these are acts of worship.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html