FROM THE DESK OF DAWN PARR
Sports stories often have a lot in common with life as a Christian. Many of the struggles, goals and principles of living life as an athlete are pretty comparable to being a believer. Paul saw the connection between Christian life and sports. In his letters, he used the major sport of his day—racing—as an analogy to explain faith.
Next week, 300 children will gather in Liberty’s Sanctuary each morning for ‘God’s Dream Team’. They will learn five of these principles from the Book of Acts: Leadership, Teamwork, Drive, Discipline, and the Pursuit of Excellence.
- Leadership – While many athletes possess this quality, leadership that exemplifies Christ is unique. Jesus gave us the Great Commission in telling us to go and make disciples of all nations. He encourages others to follow His example. The Apostle Paul understood this: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
- Teamwork is essential in any sport, and using teamwork to bring others to know Christ is the ultimate goal as a Christian. Paul wrote, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ … But God has combined the members of the body … so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12: 20-26, NIV) All Christians should focus as a team so that teamwork will bring many to know Him.
- Drive – Athletes must be extremely focused in order to achieve their goal. Their behavior is inspiring. Imagine this same drive as a Christian to do His will so that others will seek Him. Remembering Paul’s words, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us”. Truly, if God is on our side, who can be against us? Nobody. With Christ, we can truly be driven to do His work and His will so that others will seek Him.
- Discipline – Athletes face hardships physically, mentally, and emotionally—as do Christians. Being a Christian does not exempt anyone from hard times. It’s never easy to understand why bad things happen, but we have to continue living with faith that our hard times will be redeemed. In fact, the Bible says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. … Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him”. (James 1:2-4 and 12, NIV)
- Pursuit of Excellence – Anyone who has ever wanted to become good at anything knows that practice is key. We, as disciples of Christ, also follow a way that’s hard. It, too, requires daily practice. We must act on our faith every day. That means praying, getting together for encouragement, and being a part of teaching and worship. It means practicing love, mercy, patience, and forgiveness—to be better spiritual athletes and pursue the excellence He seeks in us.
Athletes practice daily to make their bodies stronger and skills sharper. Believers practice daily to make their faith stronger and their relationship with Christ sharper. Paul writes, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9, NIV). Live it out, Paul says. Faith is not just about cramming a bunch of religious facts in our heads. It’s an action. We need to practice it and work on it every day so we can be more like Christ. When we become more Christ-like, we are winners!
Please pray that our children will understand more fully the Gospel Message during ‘God’s Dream Team!’ Amen