Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Has tennis become an idol for you (too)?

I don’t really know (for sure) whether tennis had become an idol for me, to the point of it being a sin or not, but most likely it did. Therefore, I have decided to give up the one aspect that consumed much of my thought and action over the past several months: the captainship of a team. While the result – on the tennis court, for me and the team – was a positive one (we won an ALTA City Championship), for me personally perhaps it wasn’t.

There is a lot of discussion on the Internet regarding “sports and idolatry”; as a nation, our culture has become obsessed not just with celebrity, but with sport. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that having a favorite activity – either watching or playing sports – is sinful … who am I to say, in any case. But for me, if something becomes that which is on your mind (every night) before you go to bed and every morning when you wake up (and I was waking up in the middle of the night thinking about tennis during this past season), then it’s a problem.

For some, obsessing about their job, family, or anything – except Jesus – may be a problem; whether it rises to the level of sin is not for me to judge. During this past winter season, while I tried to always act faithfully, I still found myself there on Sunday morning – in church – having difficulty concentrating on the proceedings and staying in the moment of worship … because I had a tennis match to play or watch in a couple of hours!

Is playing tennis on Saturday or Sunday a sin, because of the Sabbath? I certainly hope not; again, there is a lot of discussion of this on the Internet as well. Actually, as I’ve contemplated this issue, I kept remembering scenes from the Academy Award winning Best Picture Chariots of Fire (1981), a favorite of mine in my youth because I too was a track athlete. One of the main characters in this true story (British sprinter Eric Liddell) was conflicted and unable to compete on the Sabbath during the 1924 Olympics, having to give up an event in which he was favored to win the gold medal because a heat was to be held on the Sabbath. But I also remember, and have taken to heart, a quote from the film that this character spoke to his ‘even more conservative’ fiancée regarding his passion for running:
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Indeed, I have felt God’s glory when I’ve played tennis. There have been times when I’ve made a shot that I truly didn’t have time to see the ball, let alone think or know where to hit it, but it came off my racquet perfectly, I reacted, as if the Holy Spirit intervened on my behalf. In fact, I have felt many fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – while participating in sport. And, given all that had to happen for us to win our titles (and more) this past season, even a non-believing skeptic would have a hard time denying the hand of Higher Power's involvement.

Some might call this entire line of thought piffle while others might say that this blog glorifies me – not God – and is therefore sinful in nature. There may be something to the latter, which is why I will be cutting back on my posting (which has been biweekly since January 2011) starting today.

No comments:

Post a Comment