The Idols We Never Knew We Had: PART IV – Sports

Whatever we give ourselves to in worship, this is our God.  Sometimes, because the word “worship” gets too narrowly defined, we assume that worship is merely a musical style or something that we do for a period of time on a Sunday morning.  The famous Christian pastor A.W. Tozer sheds some light on this topic though.  He once said, “If you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him one day a week.”  He’s right.  Idolatry is when we take something good in our lives, but we then misuse it by glorifying it to spiritually unhealthy degrees.  We then make sacrifices of other things as an expression of love and respect for that specific idol’s glory.

Any good thing can become an idol.  And if an alien (no, I don’t believe they exist, but they’re necessary for this illustration) came down from outer space on a Sunday and was gauging what people in America worshiped, my guess is that it might not be the God of the Bible.

Why wouldn’t it look that way?   Well, on Sundays, particularly the male populous, seems to run from Christian sanctuaries and toward television sets.  The most joyous feast does not appear to be that celebrated amongst Christians, but when the Dominoes delivery guy shows up.  The dancing and cheering seems to fall more in line with suited gladiators on a field rather than an unarmed gladiator on a cross.  And in the advent of greater technology, even the thoughts, daydreams, and fantasies of (mostly) men drift not towards a wonderful imagined life to come, but towards an imaginary fantasy football match-up.  And that’s only if these outer space aliens saw men sitting in their living rooms!

What if the aliens happened to hover over a major metropolitan stadium on a Sunday afternoon.  They’d see a billion dollar structure that dominates the landscape of the city (i.e. temple).  They’d see seats that are very expensive yet sold out every weekend (i.e. offering).  They’d see droves of people dressed in particular colors stuffing themselves with food and drink (i.e. special dress).  They’d hear loud music and chanting continuously blaring (i.e. harmonious praises).  They’d see scantily clad women standing near the main action leading people in cheers (i.e. what started as pagan virgin sacrifices and temple prostitution…..now, no comment).  In other words, the outer space visitors would probably be viewing a worship service as large, passionate, devoted, vocal, and generous as any other worship service in the world that day.

Now, if I’ve burst your bubble regarding your sports madness, understand that I’m a pretty big fan myself.  I’m not saying that any fan support in professional sports, football or otherwise, is sinful.  I’m saying that what most don’t seem to realize is that it can become sinful, idolatrous in fact.  It’s a matter of priorities.  It’s a matter of the heart.

I’m very loyal to my teams and don’t like to miss games.  I have my own fantasy football roster that I manage, quite skillfully I might add.  And I enjoy it all.  But, that passion has no place unseating passions for items ahead of it on the “most important” list in my life.  For every Christian, that list starts with Jesus our Savior.  From there on out, lists might vary, but the Bible gives us a lot of guidance on how that list is formed.  For instance, relationships generally rank higher than things, items that are directly spiritual rank higher than that which is material, eternal life ranks higher than the present temporal life, etc.

If you’re a football fan (or basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, etc.) and you’ve ever wondered if heaven will have football, I can’t tell you that for sure.  What I can tell you is about a scene in heaven that seems amazingly like the excitement of the home stadium atmosphere.  In Revelation 4 we find a group of 24 elders bowing down worshiping God for the greatest performance ever known, the most dynamic plays ever seen – the creation, redemption, and salvation of the world.  When you get to the next chapter, Revelation 5, a greater crowd has gathered – thousands upon thousands – a literal stadium of fans.  And they continuously grow louder as they just keep chanting for the MVP, shouting, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev 5:11).  And finally, it’s not just the stadium, but it’s the whole world, every radio and tv station, every fan, every single creature, singing, ” “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev 5:13).

The game is over.  The battle is won.  Jesus is victorious over sin, death, and the devil, which mean that we, as members of his team, can celebrate our victory as well.  So…….yeah, I think heaven might look a little like winning the Super Bowl.  But better.

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2 thoughts on “The Idols We Never Knew We Had: PART IV – Sports

  1. Thanks James. Good post. I have been thinking about the past day and all the hero worship of Steven Jobs of Apple, Inc. The worship of technology as if its a replacement for God in our lives. Thanks again.

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