For it is by grace you have been saved...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Of Sports Stars and Idolatry

Wow. In three short days my last post about Albert Pujols leaving St. Louis shot up to be #4 on the all time hit list on this blog. Blogger stats only go back 2 1/2 years, so the all time stats might be a tad off. Still, in just those three short days, more folks clicked over to read my brief, off the cuff remarks about Albert's departure than nearly all other posts on this site.

Now, I can surmise a couple of different things by this. I could assume this means that for the most part I never write anything here that is of any real interest. So the Pujols piece just finally pricked some interest. That quite possible may be true.

Yet, I do remember a piece I wrote during the last election cycle about Mike Huckabee's run for the White House. Not only did I get some interest on that piece, but some interesting interest. I ended up being interviewed by both the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and the New York Times. Made me feel pretty important.

Also, this is only the fourth most viewed post, so there are three more out there that have at least had some attention drawn. Granted, the short time period here is mind boggling for me, but still.

Maybe it's just to save my own pride, but I think there might be a different answer. I think it might have to do with the near worship we shower on professional athletes. One could point out the similarities between the various "houses of worship" where thousand gather to sing/shout their praises to their "god." Much of the activity in church and stadium have striking similarities.

But beyond that is the way our hearts and minds are captured. Even walking into a Sunday School classroom, the conversation at the beginning often involves sports and sports figures. Oddly enough, I can't say that the stadium conversations before a game often include commentary on the latest sermon heard. Most folks will more readily talk about their favorite ball player than they will about their Savior, just as most folks will readily pass on a social media post about said sports star more quickly than something involving "churchy" subjects.

What does this say about our priorities? And if anyone or anything has a higher priority in our hearts, minds and actions than God, does that person or thing not by definition become an idol? And what does it say about the reality of our faith when we're less likely to talk about God to our friends than we are to spout off about the latest sports gossip?

Trust me, folks, I'm not throwing stones here. I've been challenging myself with these thoughts as much as anyone else. (I may or may not have been the one to bring Pujols up in SS class). And I know I'm not the first person to bring the issue up, to make the comparison, etc. So I don't expect this particular post to hit the top ten list anytime soon.

Still, I can't help but think about a definition of worship I once heard (from Voddie Baucham I think, but I'm not sure). Worship is that which we set our mind's attention and heart's affection upon. So do we set our mind's attention and heart's affection more on football or God? Are our conversations more about baseball or Christ? Are we influenced more by playoff scenarios, or the Holy Spirit? Just some thoughts for reflection.

Psalm 72:18 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
Psalm 86:10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
Isaiah 45:22 "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

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