Faith Played Out: Life As The 'Sporty' One?
How do other people perceive you? It's a challenging thought, and one that Jo is unpacking for us today, in the latest of our series on faith and sport. Whether you're known as the 'sporty one' or your passions lie elsewhere, Jo has a great message for us this morning! Lx
“Joanna, you LOVE rowing!”
“Are you ever not playing sport?”
“Netball netball netball…”
And so it goes on.
I have been recently struck by how other people perceive me. Yes, I’m that one in the lecture theatre who turns up in training kit because I’m about to pop to the gym after class, or the one who can’t come out because I’m up training early the next morning. Sport definitely plays a big role in me setting up how I spend my time.
And, to tell you the truth, when I moved to a new place at the start of the academic year I wanted people to know that I was actually pretty good at sports. My pride took over and I thought, “yeah, that’s what people need to know about me to start with. They can find out about Jesus later.”
Recently, though, these comments have become fairly frequent amongst friends, particularly those who don’t know me so well. I’m known for my love for sport first and foremost. And while I love sport – I absolutely do, and I love to train hard and play hard on the court – I have never thought of it as being all of me. It isn’t, and shouldn’t be, what defines me.
And so it worries me that when others see me the first thing they see is sports in me. Hearing these things, I realise that actually what I want them to see is Christ in me.
Paul writes in Colossians 3:12:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”.
These character traits haven’t just been plucked out of nowhere. They are traits that Jesus himself showed. Jesus repeatedly showed compassion when he healed the sick; he showed kindness when he let the children come to him though others thought it outrageous; he showed humility in the ultimate form, humbling himself to the status of a servant, taking our place on the cross; he showed gentleness in his love for the woman at the well; and he showed patience time and time again with his beloved disciples who just never quite got what he was on about.
And so when Paul writes this in Colossians, it’s not out of the blue. We’ve been made new in Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:17 - and through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit our characters are being made more and more like Him. And that is what others should see; that is the clothing we should be putting on.
And that’s how as Christians we stand out as living distinctive lives.
What does that look like then for me? Of course people are still probably going to see me as the sporty one. And that’s great. But I want them to see more than that. In my teams, showing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience means more than just being a nice person and committed to training when it’s easy.
It means being really committed to my teammates, beyond sport. Loving them as best I can. Helping them out even when it costs me. Being patient with them (check out Hatty’s post for more on that). Being humble: putting their needs before mine, and celebrating their achievements.
As I seek to be more like Christ in my sports, it is then that people will see His transforming power at work.
It is then that my identity will be so much less about me, so much less about what I can do. Instead, my identity will be all about Him, and all about what He can do – for me, and for my teammates.
I’m Jo and I'm a medical student at Durham University. My spare time (and probably time I should be spending studying...) is taken up with my two big loves - food and sport. Netball, rowing, running, ultimate ... you name it and I'll give it a try. And probably bring some baking along with me to the session as well. I love the close friendships formed through sport - teammates become family. And I love that by sharing life, and so sharing my faith, with my teammates, others might come to know Him too.