Choruses of “we’re saved!” rang across the gym, words of affirmation of their present standing in Christ. On another court, “free!” an audible reminder of the freedom that Christ offers to compete in their sport. Around the gym, teams shouted various other reminders of spiritual truths as saints. Spiritual reminders will come easily and readily as athletes compete in a Christian environment, however what happens when sport gets the best of us?
Today we challenged the athletes with the call of practicing the presence of God coupled with the expectation to compete. Now aligned with proper motivation, we want to see whether they can bring God into the intensity of their sport. The question that needs to be asked is, what would it mean to not simply play the game, but to use it as an act of worship? What would it mean to play, completely surrendered to the presence of God? Ultimately these labs brings the realization that these athletes will not always be blessed with the same opportunity, there is a need to incorporate the presence of God even when the hosts of saints are no longer around them.
Our desire is to have God not only brought onto the court, nor held within the locker room but continuously on the forefront of their minds. From the moment they step onto the field, to every dribble, touch, feint, or strike we hope that God would be a continuous thought in between every cognizant moment.
The aim of our on-court sessions is not to get more tools to put in the toolbox, but to get more of God. Heather Stevenson (National Soccer Director) emphasized the need “to continuously practice being filled with the Holy Spirit as a discipline”. Not as a means to try harder but as a means to being more Christlike, “It is not enough to simply have the Holy Spirit within us, He must be given the freedom to transform us” she noted in the morning lecture.
We hope for these athletes that “Christ would be their best friend best friend, and ere long will be our only friend. I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with Him.” – John Owen.
Play Like They Know You Are Christian
Is it enough to know you are in good standing with God but not have that translate an affect on others? This was a question brought up by an athlete during a time-out. While it is important to centre your personal relationship with God first, there is a need to move beyond yourself and to bring others into His presence. A city on a hill cannot be hidden, nor lamp cannot be hidden under a bushel (Matthew 5:14-15). To be salt of the earth requires being a tangible difference on the court, field, rink or locker room. To be an Athlete Saint, is play like others know you are one.
“The true reward of sacrifice is not sole success in sport but a life of soul satisfaction in Jesus” – Kevin Cuz (National Campus Director)
‘How bad do you want it?’ is the question the rings through the mind of everything athlete at 6 a.m. lifts, running wind sprints, or two a day practices. Athletes regularly sacrifice on any given day for the sake of ‘success’ in sport. This could be sleep, friends, school, family and even their bodies. All of this for the aim of a personal record, medal, trophy, or success. What Athletes in Actions aims to do is reveal that “sacrifice for the sake of sport itself will us empty, unfulfilled and disappointed every time” (Cuz). No level of achievement would fully satisfy the amount of sacrifice paid, because each achievement is never enough. The cyclical achievements always beg for more, asking the question “What’s next”? As soon as one has been earned, the training for the next one continues.
Only Christ’s sacrifice paid in full, secures the greatest achievement done in our lives beyond any athlete could have dreamed for. Christ’s sacrifice takes our ability to earn our own merit, and control our own outcomes. His “sacrifice transforms our our entitled ambition into thankful praise” spoke National Campus Director Kevin Cuz in yesterday’s morning afternoon session. When we take away the need to sacrifice for our others’ approval can we rest assured in God’s satisfaction in us.