Playing ball or worshipping Baal?

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I love sports. I grew up in a home where playing all-kinds of sports was a passion. It did not matter which sport season it was, you could always find the men of our house glued to the TV set, watching some sporting event. Literally, almost any hour on the weekend, and most evening hours during the week, it would not be exaggerating to say, that we were either playing in or watching some type of sports competition. My brothers and I played all kinds of sports, especially baseball, basketball and football.

We earned more trophies than our trophy case could handle (and that’s saying something, because those were the days when you did not earn a trophy for just playing on a team). No sacrifice was too much for our parents. They spent their hard-earned money and precious time on our numerous sports registrations, equipment needs, and upon whatever else that was necessary to transport both us and them to either a scheduled-practice or game. Our mom sacrificed for us daily and our dad practiced with us faithfully.

Yes, we were one big sports machine; but, we did not know God! In fact, it wasn’t until God broke my neck in the fourth quarter of a college football game, that I began to wake up and start asking the ultimate questions of life (Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? And Does life have meaning?). Thankfully, within a year of that humbling injury, God crushed the Dagon of my life (1 Samuel 5:4), by giving me, new life in Jesus Christ my Lord (Romans 8:28; Colossians 2:13)!

Sadly, I now see many professing-Christians today who live their lives not much different than my idol-worshipping home did when I was not a Christian. The only slight difference between their home and my unsaved one is that they go to many Bible-believing churches; unless, of course, there’s a conflict with their kid’s sports schedule. However, the sanctified duties of regular attendance at their church’s mid-week prayer meeting, or the consistent utilization of their spiritual gifts in regularly and faithfully serving the needs of their church, are not treated as kindly (Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 4:10; Acts 8:1,4).

Now, please do not get me wrong, I still love to watch and play sports; but, now it has become my slave (1 Corinthians 7:23), from whom I physically benefit (1 Timothy 4:8). I now understand that playing competitive sports or allowing my children to do so, “… do not build character, they reveal it” (James Michener). So, please be careful that allowing your kids to play ball, does not become, for you and them, worshipping Baal (1 Kings 18:21)!

In conclusion, let us then, draw near to God; first, by taking heed to our heart preparation today, for encountering the living God tomorrow, in our public Worship service, both through our praises and prayers to Him, with God’s people; and secondly, through our attending to the reading and preaching of His Holy, inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word! Soli Deo Gloria! Happy Reformation Year 500!!

Jerry Marcellino is pastor of Audubon Drive Bible Church in Laurel. He can be reached by e-mail at pastorjerry@audubonchurch.org.