God or Sports?

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Lindy McDaniel

It is baseball season again. I am an avid fan of the Red Sox and enjoy following every game that I can during the season. If I were not careful, I could become too involved with my sport and neglect God in at least two areas. First of all, I must not be tempted to skip out on church attendance to watch a ball game, something that may be a temptation tonight as the Sox will be on television, a relative rarity where I live in southern Georgia. Secondly, I must not spend less time meditating on and studying the word of God because of America’s favorite pastime. There is nothing wrong with following sports in and of itself, but one must be careful not to become too obsessive and continue to put God first in their lives.

There is a movie from 2005 called Fever Pitch that I watched recently about a Red Sox fan that is so obsessed that he cannot carry on a normal relationship with his girlfriend. It works out in the end with her becoming more resolved to baseball than she ever intended in her life and him becoming a little less obsessed and more involved with her.

God is not going to make this compromise, so we can not replace the attention that should go to him and furthering His kingdom on the earth, with our attention to baseball or anything else. If we cannot continue to serve God as he would have us because we are too involved with baseball or any other sport, we should give up our past time and  refocus on God. If sports becomes an idol, which is anything that we put before God, we should give it up so that we can continue to serve God as he would have us do.

Don’t let’s even consider skipping church attendance to watch a ball game or, really to attend any other type of function that we can safely miss. Hebrews 10:24,25 says: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

We are not to place anything ahead of our assembling of ourselves together and should encourage one another to take advantage of every opportunity our situation in life allows us to meet and worship God. Our Father in heaven will not tolerate us doing other things and thus putting these things ahead of Him. Surely he will hold us accountable come the judgment day, if we forsake Him for other things.

I know of one Christian, Lindy McDaniel, who was a relief pitcher for the New York Yankees and other teams in the sixties and seventies. Since he was not needed until later in the game, he was allowed to come late to the games on Sundays because he was attending church services, which he did even when the team was visiting other cities than his current team.

How, then, can we place ball games ahead of our service to God. It would have been easy for Lindy to just say that his job required for him to be away from church every Sunday, but instead he worked out a special agreement with his teams, before he signed with them, that he would be able to attend Sunday morning worship and come to the ball park  after each game had started every Sunday! We should be encouraged by his example and never allow ourselves to place ball games ahead of worship services or bible study.

That is the other area in which we must be careful. We must not think so often and so much about baseball that we neglect our study of God’s word. If we do, it will be easy for us to fall away from the paths of righteousness and back to the sinful godlessness that characterizes so many non-Christians involved in the sport.

Satan would love for us to lose our way over sports or any other worldly pursuit, but we must be on guard against it. During the sports season we may often be tempted to stray, but we must stay the course and continue to study and meditate on God and the things of God. Let’s not allow the evil one to turn harmless baseball into something that hinders our service to God in any way, any more than we would allow anything else in life to replace Him as first in our heart.

Baseball, has no bearing on our eternal life or even on our well being in this life. Let’s keep it in perspective and not get carried away with the hype that surrounds it. After all, it is just a game and cannot really affect our life at all, unless we let it. We should not let it affect us so much, that it detracts from our service to God in any way. Our eternal destiny may depend on it.

May God bless you and keep you until next time.

 

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