To watch a talk on this topic head to the bottom of this study.
For many of us, how we perform in our sport, what we achieve and who we play for often defines how we feel, how we view ourselves or how we want others to see us. Why does this happen? What does the Bible teach us about the relationship between our sport and God?
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Genesis is the opening book of the Bible and the opening 3 chapters give us a blueprint for how God made us and the characteristics that we share with Him. In Chapters 1 & 2 we see God makes all things including mankind and that it is all VERY GOOD.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
We are created in God’s image; that means that we have the capacity to use the talents that God has given us to bring Him glory. We are made to be relational with Him and others. This is seen clearly in sport.
1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked;so I hid.”
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
Because they disobey God (sin), all humanity inherits the consequences. Our use of our talents is now hard and often fruitless, and our relationships are marred by conflict. We see this in sport too.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 1-11 unpacks God’s payment for our sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Chapter 12 then shows us how we now live in response.
God’s mercy to us through Jesus Christ pays for our sin and enables us to live a new life. A life where we don’t use our talents and relationships to glorify ourselves, but we offer them as worship to God...this includes sport.
Because of what Jesus Christ has done, we can understand our sport differently. Now we can offer our sporting talents as worship to God when we compete. Now we look to honour Him in the way we conduct our relationships in sport. We understand sport as worship! Think through how you are going to approach your sport differently this week because of this.
All Bible quotations are taken with permission from the NIV:
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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