For the Love of the Game

by David Ahn

Over the past 3 months, the sports world witnessed two of its marquee stars signed to record-breaking, long-term contracts. In baseball, the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10 year, $275 million dollar contract in December. Just a couple months later, the hockey world watched the Washington Capitals sign Alexander Ovechkin to a 13 year, $124 million dollar contract extension. While it might be easy to get caught up with the mind-blowing salaries, allow me to draw your attention to the lengths of the contracts as well. 10 and 13 year contracts! To gain some perspective, Lighthouse Bible Church has not even been around for 10 years. 13 years ago, I was in the middle of my fifth grade; 13 years from now, I will be in my upper thirties, hopefully practicing as a full-fledged doctor and supporting a family (Lord-willing). It is amazing to think that these sports franchises consider it a worthy financial investment to commit to one player at such a high price, and for such a long amount of time.

Obviously, these lengthy contracts aren’t given to every athlete that walks into the clubhouse. They are reserved for the most consistent players who have shown a dedication to the sport that will not fade after the check clears. If these athletes were doing it solely for the money or for the celebrity or for a comfortable life, they wouldn’t spend hours on end in the off-season training, or in the film rooms studying their game, or on the field/ice honing their skills. Why can certain athletes be trusted to put their all into every game and every practice, even after the security provided by a long-term contract? It’s because, for some of them, the money is not their primary motivation. Instead, their desire is to be able play their sport at the highest level, in hopes of achieving as many accolades and trophies as possible. They are being paid to do what they enjoy, what they truly love. It’s because of their love of the game. Now, you might be asking, why is this article in the LBC newsletter and not on ESPN? It is because, for those of us that are genuine Christians, WE have been given a contract of infinite value that is guaranteed for the length of eternity, by God’s grace and through Jesus’ death on a cross. After the point that we have dedicated our lives to Christ and genuinely believed the truth of the gospel, we now have Christ’s righteousness standing in the place of our sinfulness. The question is, how do we respond to this?

Unlike A-Rod or Ovechkin, we might find ourselves dragging our feet, hesitant to put forth any effort or sacrifice that might be required to grow in the process of sanctification. Some of us might struggle with the most basic of disciplines, looking to expend the minimal amount of energy to just limp into heaven, content with the security of our salvation. Maybe some of us ran hard initially, but over time have grown complacent with just maintaining our spiritual knowledge and level of commitment.

But this is not the biblical picture of a Christian. Rather, we are called to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), to “lay aside every weight and sin,” and to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). How and why are we to do these things? The writer of Hebrews continues in verse 2: “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”

For those of us that might find ourselves struggling to run hard, we must remember what we are running for! We must fix our eyes on Christ. We must remember the cross and the immeasurable grace that we, deserving of absolutely nothing, have received. Left to our own will, we would be continuing further and further on the path to destruction, but God loved us so much to sacrifice His own Son to pay the penalty for our sin. This sacrifice on our behalf should cause us to love Christ and treasure Him all the more. Comparing sports and the Christian walk is not something new. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”

Sports stars might strive for the perishable wreath of the Pennant or the Stanley Cup; we strive for the imperishable “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14) They aspire to be in the record books and the Hall of Fame; we aspire to be in the Book of Life and the Halls of Heaven. They do it for the love of the game; we do it for the love of Christ. We can not and must not allow ourselves to lose sight of this.

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About

The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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