Monday, January 03, 2005

faith and sports

There's a good article on today about Reggie White and his thoughts on being a "Christian" athlete. Before his death a few days ago, Reggie talked in an interview for the NFL network about how his role as "The Minister of Defense" both gave him a platform to talk about his faith and caused him to become a promotional tool / motivational speaker for Christianity.

You can check out the article here. You have to watch through a commercial to get the free day pass, but it is pretty painless.

As a teenager and a new follower of Jesus, I loved finding out about athletes who were Christians. It felt great to have big names like Reggie White and Barry Sanders and Evander Holyfield on "my team". They were larger than life and helped me legitimize my faith to friends who called me out for not "acting the way 16 year olds should". If it was good enough for Reggie, it was good enough for me. The obvious problem came when those heroes inevitably fell. That list is too long to go over here. The celebrity that gave them the platform also provided opportunity and visibility to fall hard and publicly. To be fair, almost any 25 year old Christian guy placed in the spotlight like that would probably find a way to screw up (look at all of the youth ministers who do).

These days I'm still glad to hear about athletes and "celebrities" who live out faith in their worlds. The ones who don't make the grand public statements, but who give their lives and finances and energy away to a kingdom other than their own. I cringe to hear "God" get credit for Grammy awards or football titles, my guess is that God has better things to do than track the BCS and cheer for the Sooners (I know that will be hard for some of you to accept).

Not sure where all of this is going, so I'll stop and encourage you to check out the article. Here's one quote from Reggie.
"I used to have people tell me, 'God has given you the ability to play football so you could tell the world about him.' Well, he doesn't need football to let the world know about him. When you look at the scriptures, you'll see that most of the prophets weren't popular guys. I came to the realization that what God needed from me more than anything is a way of living instead of the things I was saying. Now I know I've got to sit down and get it right."

Check it out.


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