A Good Reminder From Sports

1 Jun

Last night was the first game of the NBA Finals. Now, I am not much of a professional basketball fan, but the game was on, so I decided to watch. The Miami heat prevailed, winning the game 92-84.  However, what stood out to me beyond the players, beyond the shots and the dunks, were the fans.  Thousands of fans, all dressed in white, cheering on their beloved Heat.  These people payed a lot of money to see that game, and question I ask, is why?  Why do people spend hundreds of dollars on tickets, jerseys and cable all-access channels for their team’s games?  Why do millions of people around the world follow teams and players, practically worshiping them?  Why do I watch athletic events and see fans crying after a defeat?

When it comes down to it, I think many people do it because it provides them with an escape from their lives and allows them to vicariously live another.  People will pay money, will ride emotional roller coasters and practically worship athletes for the opportunity to feel as though they are a part of something.  It is an opportunity for families, communities, or even countries to unite and taste excitement and victory through the performance of another.

And yet, ultimately, the thrills of victory and pangs of defeat of a life lived vicariously through sports are temporary. There is always the next game, the next season, the next player.  At the end of the day, complete satisfaction still eludes all involved. Even those who seem to have everything recognize this.  Take Tom Brady (4x Super Bowl Champion, NFL MVP and married to supermodel Gisele Bundchen), who in an interview with 60 Minutes said this:

“Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.”

I think there is something to be grasped from all of this.  In order to find it, however, we must turn our gaze to another case of a vicarious life, one that centers on Jesus Christ. We are sinners by nature, born separated from God and in need of rescue from His just wrath against us. Enter Jesus Christ. He came and died a gruesome death on the cross. The theological term associated with this is: vicarious, substitutionary atonement.  What that means is that Christ died on the cross as a substitute, taking on our deserved punishment (for our sin) from God, and in doing so, made us right before God and reconciled in our relationship with God. Yet, these are not just abstract facts applied to all the people of the world. God calls us to receive them by faith.  These things are only true for those who find their life in Christ, who live (vicariously) through Christ and depend on Christ to live through them.

People who live vicariously through sports can only be spectators. Though fans may wish and want to, they will never be the players on the floor. At the end of the day, they will still be fans. But God offers something so much better. When our hearts and minds are opened to faith, see Jesus Christ as the glorious savior that He is and run to Him and the grace He offers us, we not only receive the life He imparts to us, but we are given a role to play in God’s plan for His glory. God saves us by His grace so that we might be enabled and equipped to accomplish the good works that He has prepared for us. Christian, you are not merely a vicariously living spectator, you are a participant who has been vicariously brought to life and now given the privilege of living the rest of your life in trusting obedience and enjoyment of God, to His glory and your complete satisfaction.


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