Friday, June 12, 2009

Costly Credit

One final thought when it comes to the world of sports, postgame interviews and our chance to exalt Christ.

It's going to cost you.

Though I doubt he perfectly nailed it every time, I always enjoyed hearing Charlie Ward share after a game. Though an incredible athlete (a Heisman trophy winner and NBA basketball player who was also drafted by two MLB teams), Ward regularly turned the attention to the gospel. His statements made it clear the gospel was his first love.

I remember one year the Knicks were making a deep run into the playoffs. In the midst of this, a New York reporter chose to sit in on a Bible study some members of the team enjoyed. In the study, Ward made a comment that the Jews rejected their Messiah and had Him killed. The reporter wrote his article, declaring Ward an anti-semite and had the whole city in a tizzy. Much was made during the game of Ward's comment, with announcers even wondering if his comments would hurt team chemistry. Though never an All-Star (on a cast of all-stars), Ward hit several key threes to seal a victory. At the end of the game, a reporter grabbed Charlie and immediately asked about the game, the controversial week, and whether Ward regretted his statements. Skillfully, Charlie simply stated his love and devotion for the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation He provided him. It truly was one of my favorite "sports moments."

As much as I love Charlie Ward (and I'm a Pistons fan!), I'm not going to claim his loyalty to Christ cut his career short. (I think the real reason was knee cartilage.) However, it certainly created some tension and stress at times. Bold Christian athletes have regularly had their intensity, loyalty and team chemistry questioned. People will accuse the player of proselytizing, preaching at other players or being judgmental. Sacrifices will probably be made.

This should serve to remind us that all sacrifice involves cost. Often we want to offer our bodies a living sacrifice, but we hope that comes free of charge. However, if we take advantage of opportunities to speak of Christ and His work on our behalf, it will sometimes create a cost. The cost does not mean you've done something wrong. It just may mean you've done something right.

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