The Dancing Puritan

Sunday, February 24, 2013

God and Basketball: Pt. 2

Does God care about basketball? Is he interested in such trivial things?

The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds (Psalm 33:13).
North Georgia Christian School Lady Chargers Photos by Holly Dempsey

The better question is, Does God care about his people?

The Puritan Matthew Henry wrote: Their hearts, as well as their times, are all in his hand; he formed the spirit of each man within him. All the powers of the creature depend upon him, and are of no account, of no avail at all, without him.

It is without doubt a sad truth that we take the good gifts of God and turn them into idols of the heart.  As Tim Keller writes in Counterfeit Gods, an idol is what we trust, love and obey ultimately.  What sinners do is take God-given gifts and worship and serve the gifts rather than the giver of the gifts.

Enter grace.

What God does for His people in salvation is that he sets them free. No longer is the Christian in chains of slavery to idols and helpless to break the shackles of idol-love. He is now free to enjoy the gifts of God and turn the entire universe into an arena for worship. That is true in small and large things. It is true, even in eating and drinking (I Corinthians 10:31). It is true even in basketball.

The unbelieving king looks to his army, the warrior leans on his strength and the nations look to their power (Psalm 33:16-17). The unbelieving basketball player finds his hope, his meaning, his joy in basketball (or something else). Their sport (or whatever their idol may be)--drives them and they bow down in obedience to their idol.

But when God invades the heart he brings freedom and opportunity.

He turns idol worshippers into God-lovers. Those who trust in the Lord turn their eyes from their former idols and rest in the sweet knowledge that ...the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love...(16).

The God worshipper looks to the Lord and his heart is glad in him (21).

In the movie Chariots of Fire Eric Liddle said:

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure. 

Basketball matters to God. It is one arena where he can be praised. When we play for his glory we show that God matters to us. When we play basketball for the glory of God then when we run, pass, dribble, rebound, shoot and raise our hands to the sky--we feel his pleasure. And regardless of the outcome of any particular game we can Shout for joy in the LORD...because Praise befits the upright (Psalm 33:1).