It seems like the sports world and Christianity have been together in the headlines a lot recently. Either there is overzealous adulation for guys like Josh Hamilton and Tim Tebow, or there is extremely negative comments, hand-wringing, and ridicule for them. Where does the problem lie? I know many who would love to blame the media and the anti-faith, anti-Christianity movement of our world. But the truth is, Christians are primarily to blame.
That may sound strange to some, but I hit upon this issue when I previously wrote a blog about “Why You Like Tebow Too Much.” For some reason, Christians today are swept up in this celebrity culture that has developed here in America. In order to “fit in” we need our celebrity Christians, those individuals that we can point to and show the tell the lost around us, “See, Christians are cool, too. You should want to be one just like so-in-so.” By the way, it is not just sports, too. This celebration of individuals is seen in many of the popular preachers of our day.
In taking on this mindset, we have allowed these “celebrity Christians” to become idols in our life. Remember, and idol is anything that takes the place of the Lord in our life. You may be thinking right now, “I’m just a fan, but these athletes are not idols in my life.” But let me ask you this – which do you talk about more? And when you do talk about God, how many times is it often wrapped around one of these celebrity Christians?
Each of us has a God-sized hole within us that only He can fill, and when we constantly try to fill that hole with the different idols this world has to offer we will always end up feeling empty and unfulfilled. What is needed today are not more Christian celebrities, but more Christians promoting and practicing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, before I finish, let me reassure my readers that I am not saying sports are evil. I like sports and am in the process of remodeling my office, and it will still have a “sports theme” to it. You follow me on Twitter and you will see that I tweet about sports just as much sometimes as I do about faith and the Bible. And I am not saying that these athletes are necessarily evil, either. Again, we made the situation, not them. Though I must be honest here and tell you that it is hard to feel too bad for those who carry “million dollar crosses” while others in our world bear their cross all the way to the grave.
What I am cautioning against is making idols out of teams, and even more so, Christian athletes. I am amazed at how many Christians I have read who make statements like, “Its not fair that everyone knows his (Josh Hamilton’s) business. That’s between him and God.” But the truth is, we are to blame for idolizing men and women like him for their faith. Men and women will fall and let us down – God never has and never will.