HOW TO USE SPORTS FOR EVANGELISM (Part 1)
Written by Rev. Samuel A. Alabi
Youth Ministerial Officer (Sports), Youth & Student Ministries Department, NBC
Sports derived its origin from an old French word disport and it means leisure. It is all forms of physical and social activities done according to rules of exercise, competition or recreation purposely to build, maintain or improve physical, mental and/or social abilities and provide entertainment to both participants and spectators. This implies that the essence of sports is to build, maintain and/or improve good physique, psychology and relationship. The onus of Sports ministry actually focuses on building, maintaining and improving relationship for the purpose of strengthening the body of Christ without necessarily neglecting the physical and mental advantages of sport. The British Sports Council divided sporting activities into four categories, namely: Competitive Sport, Physical Recreation, Aesthetic Activities, and Conditioning Activities. Every kind of sporting activities around the world fall under at least one of the four. Even though sporting activities around the world are in their hundreds, this paper encourages the reader to limit types of sporting activities to the fifteen recognized by the Nigerian Universities Games Association (NUGA). These sporting activities are: Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Chess, Cricket, Football, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, (Lawn) Tennis, and Volleyball.
WHAT IS THEOLOGY OF SPORTS?
Theology of sports in a layperson language means how God views sporting activities. David Cunningham described it and referred to it as ‘Sportsology’. In his description, Cunningham referred to sports as an amoral force, which implies that sport is neutral –neither good nor bad. This has been the understanding of many people doing sports ministry over the years. Meanwhile, no one can do justice to explaining what theology of sport is without talking about the ‘creation’ of sport.
Colossians 1:16 says, “For by (Christ) ALL THINGS were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him” (Emphasis added). Even though this verse of the Bible did not categorically state that God created sports, one can infer that since God created all things, it implies that He created everything including the invention of sporting activities. Hence, God created sports!
Similarly, after six days of creation, the Bible says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was VERY GOOD” (Genesis 1:31a, Emphasis added). Therefore, if Christ created all things by and for Himself, and everything God made (created) was very good, then sport is very good!
In summary, God through Christ created sport for His purpose and His glory, and sport is very good at creation. The fact that some people are abusing sport does not deny the truth that God through Christ created all things, for His purpose and His glory, and it does not change the truth that the creation, including sport, is very good. Christians should then accept sporting activities with gratitude as gifts from God for His glory and our pleasure. However, the infiltration of sin in the world after the Fall of Adam and Eve brought about the amorality of Creation, whereby the creation became either good or bad. Hence, when Christ came to die for our sin, He came to redeem the creation, and if we allowed Jesus Christ to be involved in our participation in the world system (sports or no sports), then every other things we do in the world would become good through His righteousness in us. Therefore, theology of sport is embracing and participating in sports as part of the redemptive work of Christ for God’s glory and human’s pleasure.
To be continued . . . .
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