If you are like me, then this weekend was an exciting time for you. The NFL season finally kicked off, and for the next several months, we will have weekends full of football.
Over this weekend, along with watching a lot of football, I read through The Reason For Sports: A Christian Fanifesto and found it to be a great example of looking at sports from a Christian perspective.
Probably not coincidentally, Matt Chandler touched on some of the issues related to sports and the Christian faith in his sermon this weekend. He knows all too well that much like the rest of the South, football is very much a religion in Texas.
While I think one can certainly go too far in their obsession with sports, specifically football, that is not to condemn the enjoyment of sport unilaterally. As a Christian, I think we need to step back and examine the heart behind the obsession. It would be legalistic to say that one cannot watch football on Sunday simply because it is the Lord’s Day. The Bible no where condemns this sort of leisurely activity on Sundays, but on the other hand, Sundays cannot just be all about football if you are a committed Christian.
My Sunday consisted of all morning at church and serving in helping to lead worship. I then spent the rest of the afternoon with my wife watching football. For us at least, it is a shared activity that we both enjoy and way to deepen our relationship (I’m a lucky guy!). We both have teams we are eager to see win each week (Dolphins and Redskins respectively) but I don’t think we obsess over it throughout the week. Sunday can be a both/and sort of day that is both reflective on Christ and his work, and resting in the leisure of fellowship and football. That is at least our goal this season.
Where the danger may lie then, is in putting too much of our affections into following football. We may tend to care more about whether or not our team converts a third down to keep the drive alive than whether or not our hearts are growing in their affection for Christ. The danger isn’t in caring about football, the danger is in caring about football more than Christ. When kept in its rightful perspective, football is something we’ve been given to enjoy, but it is in no way ultimate, and should not be central.
So, back to Kluck’s book. It is basically a collection of essays he has written on the how a Christian can learn from the world of sports. It is an easy read, but enjoyable, and he makes several good observations and practical conclusions for Christians. There are not a lot of books out there about sports and Christianity, but Ted seems to have a good grasp on what is out there and how it tends to fall short of really thinking theologically about sports.
His book however is a great example of thinking theologically about the world of sports, and with the price at Amazon right now, it is worth picking up for anyone who like me, loves the gospel and likes sports. So long as the former remains a “love” and the latter a “like” I think there can be a lot of fruitful engagement in the world of sports.
We spend a lot of time each weekend watching football, but we also spend a lot of time throughout our weeks in prayer and careful Bible study. If our Sundays are spent worshiping God, and watching football, rather than the other way around, then we might be on the right track. I’ll be sure to keep you posted though.