Too Tough to Follow Jesus? Really…

bible_gridiron (1)For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. -The Bible (I Timothy 4:8)

I played four sports in High School because we didn’t have five. I’ve pulled the muscle that makes your leg go up and down when you walk and all I did was tape it up because that’s just what we did back then. I’ve sustained more severe high ankle sprains than I can remember, a broken wrist that I distinctly remember, and once stepped into the runner on a double-play helping him break his jaw in 3 places. I bet he remembers. And yes I still feel bad about that…

I’ve run so hard my chest was on fire, broken a school record in the triple jump, and hit a home run or two. I was only occasionally the best, but I love to compete. Still do. I’m scrappy, I know how to cheat, and I’m good at smack talk.  Oh yes, the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990’s, the Miami Hurricanes of the 80’s and 90’s… You bet I was a fan. Still am if you can get me to admit it.  I was born in Dallas, so I had little choice.

Look, I’m into sports.  I speak the language, and know the lifestyle.  I just got back from helping to cover a game on the radio, and I did the play-by-play for a Division I junior college earlier this week. Tomorrow, I’m going to run 3 miles because I still take personal pride in pushing myself.  I’m offended by movies and television shows that make pastors look like awkward wimps that punch like a girl.  Really?  That’s not me. Try me in football, dare me to do a rail slide in a snow terrain park, or just try… try… to strike me out.  I’ll crush that weak stuff.  Don’t even bring that with you if it’s all you got.

(yes I know I should have used the word “have” there, but that’s not how you say it in the dugout)

Sports are a part of me.  I’ve grown up playing them, felt the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  And I identify with those who know exactly what I’m talking about here.  And it’s why I find it so crazy, so hard to understand, why so many who play sports in high school or college, have so little time or interest in following God, or going to church, or being real about where they stand with Him.

C’mon, Tony Dungee is a Christian.  Emmitt Smith?  Ever heard of him?  Tom Landry, Kurt Warner, Joe Gibbs, and these days some famous young guns like RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, and that infamous Tebow. They love God, and dare to follow Him. There are so many more.  You’ll find serious Christians in everything from the X-games to the UFC.  So, since when did going to church become wimpy for a high school athlete?

Well, speaking as someone who knows what a wind-sprint is, AND also speaking as a Christian who has followed God from the mission field, to the inner city, I know I’m not being soft when I say Godliness… is better. Following God is the real goal, and takes real commitment. Character will be built more in your relationship with God and in every adventure you dare to follow Him, than on a court or on a field. Don’t pretend to be tough if you can’t play on HIS court baby, where the battle is real and the war is for souls. If you play sports, great! Enjoy the game, but c’mon… don’t wimp out on the real one.  And don’t tell me you teach your kids character when you let them sleep in on Sundays, don’t care if they practice self-control on the weekends, and train them to think that attention and accolades are the most important things to seek in life.

If you do, then I dare say that in the great game of life, you hit like a girl.

And that’s an insult to girls everywhere.

That’s why sports or no sports, I tip my ball cap to those of you who get on God’s team, and leave it all on HIS field. That’s the big show right there.  Anyone who says different is wearing a spiritual pocket protector on their soul. Booyah.

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