The prevailing view in our modern Western society is that sport is good.
In many ways it is, but in one major way sport isn’t good.
What I’m talking about is the way sport clashes with church.
Most children’s sports, especially, have their fixtures on a Sunday morning, presumably to avoid clashing with professional fixtures on Saturday afternoon, and because access to facilities and adult helpers is easiest on Sunday.
Why is this a problem?
Well I think it’s a problem for two key reasons:
1) It is setting up a straight choice between sport and church.
2) It results in physical training trumping spiritual training.
The impact of our children NOT doing physical training, and especially the dynamic of doing it as part of a team, in a ‘safe’ competitive environment is easy to see.
Childhood obesity, a lack of respect for rules and authority, a poor sense of facing challenges and opposition and finding ways to overcome them, and more… these are all easy to see.
The impact of our children NOT doing spiritual training, and especially the dynamic of doing it as part of a church, in a ‘safe’ spiritual environment is NOT so easy to see.
If we read the Bible we can see very clearly that physical training and exercise is vitally important. We were made with bodies that require constant activity to stay useful and functional. We were made to interact socially and to challenge each other into healthy growth (not compete to defeat each other). Physical training makes us better at doing any number of useful things.
But we can also see very clearly that spiritual training is also vitally important, and if anything it is more important than physical training.
This is what Paul says to Timothy:
“while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
1 Timothy 4:8
Through physical training we are mindful of the needs of this present life, but in spiritual training we are mindful of BOTH this present life AND the next one.
It’s difficult when we can’t immediately see the impact of not having spiritual training through regularly and routinely attending church each Sunday morning, but it’s so essential that we do; both for this life and the next!
So, if you are currently choosing sport over church on a Sunday morning, let me exhort you to swap them around and find another time to do sport.
And if you are a parent with a child who plays fixtures on a Sunday morning (or wants to), let me exhort you to put church first for your child, and do sport another time, because your child will be significantly healthier as a result, BOTH in this life AND the next.