2018-05-19 / Religion

Fan, Fanatic, or Foolish?

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! … Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! … When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; … Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. … Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. (Lamentation 3:40, 2 Corinthians 13:5, Psalm 119:59, Psalm 139:23-24, and Psalm 19:12 ESV)

A believer can be a sports fanatic, but caution; caution, I say, CAUTION!

A lot of folks claim a lot of things do not interfere with their spiritual transformation, but, if we are honest with ourselves, those things might be true hindrances. Many times, we claim those hindrances are part of our freedom in the Lord. Many times, we will claim our license as freedom from the law. We’ll say, “I’m not under the law!” While that’s true, we are not bound by the law and we are to be led of the spirit, it cannot be an excuse for license!

Apparently, the people in Corinth were doing whatever they wanted to do and using the whole “All things are lawful for me because I’m not under the law” argument. The Apostle Paul addressed it: “’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV) The greater wisdom recognizes not everything is helpful and some things are enslaving!

Whether it’s watching a professional team, your favorite college or your own child’s school or recreation league team, we can be too caught up in sports. We can hurt our testimony. We can be enslaved by habits, attitudes and allegiances to sports.

Now, believers – and, note, I’m talking to people who are concerned about embodying the life of Christ and living out the gospel – how can we know we are going too far? NOTE: if you don’t care a bit about walking with Jesus, sharing the gospel and raising up disciples, (a) don’t read any further and (b) remove the label “believer” from your life. NOTE #2: the questions that follow may be painful.

Have you ever had to watch or play a sport that made you miss serving God or gathering with the people of God? Does that happen regularly?

Have you ever screamed rudely at other players, the TV, another team’s child (eek!) or parent, cursed or acted in a way that might diminish your testimony because of sports?

Have you ever let sports rule your schedule?

Have you ever let a win or a loss own your emotions for an inordinate amount time?

Have you ever gotten in a real, heated argument about your team or a play or a call?

Do you give more money to chasing sports than you do to supporting ministry and missions?

Do you regularly talk more about your favorite teams than you do your redeeming Savior?

Does the way you yell from the stands or your recliner mirror the way you worship the Lord from the pew?

Would you rather be seen wearing your team’s logo or be seen bearing the cross of Jesus?

Would you drive as far and spend as much to share Jesus with someone as you do to see a game or take your child to a game?

Does sports help us rest, grow, become more like Jesus? Is it a pleasant distraction? Does it tenderize and humble us toward God and others? I am not advocating we become nervous ninnies, fretting over every little thing. What I am saying is that we be willing to take fearless inventories about various areas of our lives and make sure we are not embracing something in such a fashion that it has become a hindrance to our personal transformation or to our witness. All things ought to come under the spiritual purview of our walk with Jesus.

I remember that my flesh fails, but God is always able to restore me! Whenever I take a fearless moral inventory, or allow God to examine me, and when I find areas not currently yielded to God or things that I clearly need help with, I am tempted to despair, but I remember, God is good, God is just, God is full of grace and mercy and God intends to shape me into the image of his aon. I remember Psalm 40:12-13 quite often: “For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me!” (ESV)

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