Sport involves competition.
Sometimes we love it, sometimes we hate it! Sometimes as Christians we are unsure of how our faith shapes how we compete.
Often competition is seen as bettering yourself over others or crushing the opponent and striving to be better than the rest. But how do we navigate serious competition as a Christian?
Right at the start of the bible, in Genesis chapter 2, when all was in perfect harmony with God and his ways, we see God encourage Adam to compare himself to what God has made and to find a suitable helper so as to identify the differences and the talents of who God uniquely made him to be.
We see right there, that comparison, to better understand and enjoy the breadth and depth of the talents God has given us, is good and helpful. It helps us enjoy and place our talents in their right place in what God has made. This is something to be celebrated and enjoyed in the life in sport God has given us.
BUT in the very next chapters we see the direct impact of human rebellion against God and his ways. We see the impact of this vividly outworked in Genesis chapter 4 in the story of Cain and Abel, where the desire of sin in us is exposed as it causes us to compare ourselves to others, not for growth in our enjoyment of our talents, but in our brokenness we compare our selves to each other to build our value and our self worth...it ends disastrously!
So if competition in sport, at its purest, is the joyful desire to compare ourselves with others so as to understand the abilities given to us and others and to therefore push each other to joyfully explore the limits of our abilities as we compete, then this is a wonderful reflection of how God made us to be.
But when our focus in competing in sport is misplaced and is instead focussed towards building our value and self worth then it can have a negative impact on us and on others.
Are you motivated by the desire to to push yourself and compare yourself with those around you to explore the limits of your ability and creativity or does your performance, good or bad, shape how feel about yourself and view those around you?
So as a Christian how does our faith shape how we compete?
Colossians 3:1-4 gives us an insight into how Christians can now compete purely, it involves our hearts and our heads!
In Jesus Christ we have been saved from the consequence of our rebellion against God and restored into a new life in Christ.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Notice straight away in verses 1 and 2 that the Christian in sport is to set their hearts and minds on things above. That is they are to focus on Christ and the new life they have in him. And in verse 3 we see that this means that their value and worth is now defined and determined by him.
Therefore, so as to compete purely, we focus our hearts on things above not earthly things...
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
You see, when I forget this, my performance in competition becomes the means by which I feel valued and valuable, and this effects not only how I feel, but how I view those I compete with and how I behave as I compete. I will view those I compete with as a threat or with superiority and I will behave to protect my self worth, at times being willing to do whatever it takes as I am compared with others so as to stop them being better than me!
But when I remember that I am loved, saved and secure in Christ, when I set my heart and mind on this, competition becomes pure, it becomes a place of joyful discovery of the creative limits of my abilities as I push myself and am pushed by others in competition. This is awesome!
The outcome of sporting competition doesn’t shape my worth, my performance in competition doesn’t determine my value....and that changes everything!
With my heart and mind set in Christ, in sport I am:
God gives competition as a wonderful opportunity for us to compare and grow in understanding the scope of the talents he has given us and to enjoy these in relationship with others.
So as you go to compete reset your heart, reset your mind, remember that your life is now in Christ and allow this truth alone to shape how you compete.
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A weekly devotional for sports people