My NFL football team is a huge disappointment so far. Why do I care? Is it Christian to care? Throughout the ages, Christianity has focused on God’s grace. When we focus on the grace or the unmerited favor of God in Christian doctrine, we have struggled with where we place competition. I have heard elite Christian athletes declare they don’t pray during games because they do not believe God really cares about the outcome of the game; he only cares about the people involved. Others focus heavily on God’s intervention and thank him uncontrollably, giving Him all of the credit in the outcome.
Some Christians have swung so far against competition that we have been taught to be soft and wait on the grace of God in all situations. I became a Christian during my time competing as a college wrestler. I loved wrestling. I loved wrestling from 2nd grade on. I worked hard to get to where I was. But, in a moment of honesty, I asked God if I should quit and focus on something else. I found no reason not to finish what I started.
I learned some things along the way. One thing I learned was Jesus wanted witnesses where I was already. One of my longtime friends and teammates asked me a question one time. It was something like this, “Aaron, you really do love Jesus. You believe this Christian stuff with all of your heart. You really live it and care deeply about it, yet you get into fights in practice just like everyone else. Why is that?” Now I will admit that fights are not the best thing, but consider the culture was hand-to-hand “combat” everyday. This is what we did, day in and day out. It was hard work. There were egos and tempers and I was one of them. But Jesus was still at work trying to work through me in that college wrestling room.
So, what is it about the quarterback who has to get up off of his back to see if his receiver made it into the end zone? How about the underdog who wasn’t supposed to win, but somehow made his or her way through the entire competition to win? What about the person who came from poverty and made a way for himself as a boxer or ultimate fighter?
Do we marvel at sports and care deeply about the outcome because there is something Godly about it. Paul told the believers in Rome that they were more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). He told the believers in Ephesus to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6).
Maybe God’s grace enables us to conquer sometimes. Maybe His grace gives us courage to do whatever we need to do in our lives. Maybe His grace teaches us how to lead our children well, or overcome hard obstacles in our jobs. Maybe the grace of God has set us free to live vibrant lives where we have the opportunity to do very hard things. Maybe by the grace of God we are set in motion on a mission where we can accomplish something great or fail tragically. We have a hand in writing our own story. Maybe Jesus set us free to become like David and conquer our Goliaths. Maybe God does love football.
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