Call to Worship: Psalm 30:4-5
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Exhortation: Run the Race
I Corinthians 9:24-27
In the early church there were two exaggerated views of sports. One was the Greco-Roman view, which promoted physical attractiveness and appeased the pagan gods, but they downplayed the spiritual significance of sports. On the other hand, the Gnostics emphasized the spiritual by minimizing the significance of the body. For the Gnostics, the soul was trapped in the body and it would finally be set free at death. The early church strived to find a proper view of the body and soul. Clement of Alexandria coined a phrase that helped nuance the Christian perspective on sports: “physical activity, yes; cult of the body, no.” Paul uses the illustration of a runner in I Corinthians 9 to make a point about how we are to be discipline in order to win the prize. We are to balance our spiritual lives with our physical lives; we are not to give so much emphasis to our spirits that we forsake the body as the Gnostics did. Nor are we to spend so much time perfecting our bodies that we forget our Spirits as the Greeks did. Rather we are to discipline our lives, so that together as a covenant community we pursue to serve one another, as Paul served in proclaiming the gospel.
For us this morning, a Christian perspective on sports tells us that: Our dignity as human beings is grounded in our being created in the image and likeness of God, a unity of body and soul. God gives each of us varying talents, including athletic ones; the reason we develop these gifts is not merely to receive a perishable prize, but the imperishable prize of service to God and to others.
Prayer: Our Father, our bodies are gifts from you and our souls are gifts from you. May we pursue, body and soul, the imperishable and may we not run aimlessly as those without hope, but may we run the race with full conviction that you are our eternal reward. Amen.