What was on your mind as you went to bed last night? Truth be told, my mind was visited and revisited by the anticipation that on this Lord’s Day, my (yes, I claim them as my own) Philadelphia Eagles kick off at 1pm in a game against the Chicago Bears. I’m guessing many of you were thinking similar thoughts about the team you claim as your own. Others of you had already juggled your normal Sunday morning schedules to plan your day around this morning’s World Cup Soccer final.
And then I woke up this morning and got a punch in the gut. As part of my morning reading routine, I’ve been reading the last through weeks through Philip Graham Ryken’s book, My Father’s World: Meditations on Christian and Culture. For some reason, my chapter-a-day put me in Chapter 41 this morning. . . “That Demon, Sport.” Ugghhh.
Here’s the opening lines. . . “The Christians at Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, Scotland, know how to pray. Every Saturday night sixty or seventy of them gather in the church hall to spend two hours praying for the work of the gospel around the world. One Saturday night I heard a church leader pray against the rulers and dominions of spiritual darkness in the city of Aberdeen. He prayed against the principalities of corruption, and drinking, and gambling, and materialism, and prostitution. ‘And especially,’ he continued, ‘that demon, sport.'”
Ryken’s entire essay is worth reading. . . especially on this day where sport takes front-and-center in so many of our lives. Ryken addresses how sport has become an idol in our culture. He writes, “There are at least two good ways to tell if sport is becoming one of your idols. One is to notice how tense you get when you are watching a big game, or how upset you get when your team loses. Your emotions reveal where your heart has placed its ultimate loyalties. Another way to tell if sports are becoming an idol is to keep track of the time and money you spend playing or watching sports. Are sports distracting you from more important activities like Bible reading or talking with your children? If so, there is something idolatrous about your sporting activities.” Ugghhh. . . again.
I would encourage you to take 5 minutes today to read Philip Ryken’s entire meditation on sport. It will remind you that idols. . . even if it’s sport. . . never satisfy and ultimately leave us empty. I need that reminder. You can read it here.