Mature Football Season Christians
I confess to being a little distracted. My Cubs just defeated their arch rival, the Cardinals, in the playoffs (only to be beaten by the Mets) and my Michigan State University Spartans just defeated the University of Michigan Wolverines in an unbelievable finish to a crucial football game. 'Tis the time of year!
As much as I love a good sporting event, I am also concerned for the average Evangelical Christian and their approach to recreation. As with all things, we want to view recreation through the eyes of faith. Our faith is not a compartmentalized faith. So how do we determine what is appropriate and what is not appropriate recreation? Should a mature Christian watch football? I would like to propose ten governing thoughts to help us answer these questions:
1. Seek God's Glory. The Christian knows that seeking God's glory is seeking what is best for my soul. Therefore, I will find nothing more pleasurable than seeking God. This singular pursuit shapes all my living (1 Corinthians 10:31), including recreation.
2. Seek not What Obstructs. This shouldn't need to be stated, but it must be. Any form of recreation, no matter how entertaining or restful, is unacceptable if it is sinful. I can find no rest, no delight, and no pleasure in anything that obstructs my view of Christ. As Owen said, "As sin weakens, so it darkens the soul. It is a cloud, a thick cloud, that spreads itself over the face of the soul, and intercepts all the beams of God's love and favor. It takes away all sense of our privilege of our adoption; and if the soul begins to gather up thoughts of consolation, sin quickly scatters them." Why would I ever want to rob from myself the greatest source of joy?
3. Seek not What Obscures. Anything that I have found rest, delight, or pleasure in that obscures my view of Christ should be reconsidered. David knew the armor granted to him by Saul didn't fit. The armor itself wasn't bad, but it inhibited. So some of our recreations, though not bad in and of themselves, can inhibit our pursuit of God. Like David, we must be quick to throw off such things that would seek to weigh us down (Hebrews 12:1).
4. Beware of Subtle Voices Without. The voices in our culture, like the Sirens of Greek mythology, promise much and deliver little. Our culture will promote various recreations as satisfying and fulfilling. Though they seldom satisfy or fulfill, they often do consume.
5. Beware of Subtle Voices Within. If there is any recreation that beckons too much, it is to be avoided. If it requires too much time, energy, thought or love then it must be too much for me.
6. Be Conscious of True Benefits. Aim at true benefits. We belong to another (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Ask, "Does this truly benefit my soul?" How often we engage in recreations meant to provide rest, joy, relief from stress, etc. only to find that they heighten these unwanted companions.
7. Be Conscious of Time. Jonathan Edwards helpfully resolved "never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life or before the last trumpet blew." We only have so many days, hours, minutes, and seconds in this life. How much time do I want to spend upon this or that recreation?
8. Be Conscious of Your Body. Remember that you are body and soul. The two are tied together. When the soul languishes, the body often follows. The opposite is also true. We need to take time for recreation, enjoyment, rest, and pleasure. Our bodies and souls need it! The pleasures of life were not created to be merely a source of temptation. Rather, they were created by a good God for the good of His people.
9. Be Entertained. Enjoy life. Godliness is not equal to moroseness. Unfortunately, some Christians think that Christian maturity is measured by the degree to which they are concerned that someone may be having fun somewhere. Entertainment and recreation are a gift. A gift from above (James 1:17). A gift to be enjoyed. Be entertained and enjoy life to the glory of God.
10. Be Conscious of Who You are in Christ. Enjoy your freedom in Christ. Find rest in good things. Find pleasure in good things. But find your ultimate rest and pleasure in the best thing--find it in Christ!
Our Christian faith shapes our recreation. In one sense, we should enjoy recreation more than anyone else--knowing that it is a gift from God. In another sense, our Christianity should inhibit our enjoying recreation too much, because we know that it cannot meet the ultimate need we have for rest, enjoyment, and pleasure (Matthew 11:28-30; Isaiah 51:3; Psalm 37:4). Dear Christian, recreate! But always do so in the Lord.
C.J. Mahaney Don't Waste Your Sports
Stephen Altrogge Game Day for the Glory of God
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