Faith Played Out: Sport As Worship
‘Worship’ is a term that we use frequently; a term that we probably feel we understand. Often, however, we automatically think of worship as singing, playing an instrument or an activity that takes place in church. I would guess that sport is not the first thing you think of when it comes to worship. Of course the worship which we partake in during church services is amazing and essential but there is another element of worship that we so often overlook.
God has blessed each of us with gifts and abilities. Not everyone can play in a worship band or be great at public speaking. We all have different gifts and this is so exciting. If you are gifted in sport this is because God has designed you in that way. It is not an accident. This is such an exciting truth for us; God designed our talents and our passions. He loves that you love to play sport because he made you that way.
“For we are God’s masterpiece” (Ephesians 2:10)
“You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 119:14)
If this is true then what does this mean for our worship? God does not simply bless us with gifts for our own enjoyment or to fill our time. He wants us to use our gifts to bring glory to Him.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12:1 (MSG)
This verse absolutely thrills me; Paul tells the Christians in Rome that they can worship God through offering their ‘normal’ activities as a sacrifice to him. How often do we do this? I know that so often I go through my day bored and unfocused, just living for myself and certainly not worshipping God. If we stop, however, to consider what Jesus has done for us what can we do apart from worship him with everything we have?
Worship is in the everyday. Worship is doing the things you love for God.
Worship is playing a hockey match to glorify God. Worship is running in a race to glorify God. Worship is winning or losing but playing for God. When we grasp this truth it completely changes how we live in every moment of our lives.
Finally, if our sport is worship this must change how we approach it. If we are playing in light of what Jesus has done for us this changes everything; our attitudes, our actions and how we treat our teammates or opposition. Suddenly it is not just about winning but about worshipping God. Let this change how you view your sport. If you love to play tennis do it because Jesus died for you; worship him. If you love to run then run because God made you that way; worship him.
Eric Liddell was a missionary but also an Olympic athlete. He worshipped God all over the world including on the running track. He said Yes‘I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. When I run I feel God’s pleasure’.
Sport is not something that is separate from our Christian life. It actually couldn’t be more closely connected.
What sport is it that you love to play? Go and play it to the best of your ability and feel God’s pleasure, as you worship him through using the gifts that he has given to you.
Having grown up in Ballymena, Jenny has just graduated after spending 3 years studying History and Theology at Grey College, Durham University. A keen hockey and tennis player, she is excited to move to Cambridge this September for a PGCE.