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"Evangelistic-Disciplemaking" Sports Outreach
“Remembering the Sabbath to keep it Holy” and honoring the Lord’s Day have been amongst the most freeing, inspirational and invigorating aspects of my faith and life as a Sports Outreach Minister.
“Remembering the Sabbath” provides a rootedness and a balance to my life: Rooted by being anchored to the repeated rhythmic tension of activity and rest, and balanced by engaging in a healthy mix of work and play. When properly rooted and balanced, I am continually renewed and refreshed.
“Honoring the Lord’s Day” tethers me to the twin principles of personally and corporately worshipping God. I personally practice the presence of Christ in my six days of “vocational” endeavors and I also exalt God each Sunday by engaging in corporate praise, fellowship and spiritual contemplation centered on the preaching of God’s Word. Both the personal and the corporate demonstrate a witness of the responsibilities and blessings of being a follower of Christ.
Perhaps Sabbath keeping is best summarized by saying rest (which enables play), is a foreshadowing of the eternal rest Paul writes about in his letter to the Hebrews.1 As Mark Buchanan says: “play hints at a world beyond us” and “when we play we nudge the border of eternity.”2 Abraham Heschel writes: remembering the Sabbath “rehearses heaven” and is a “foretaste of heavenly activity.”3
Perhaps Lord’s Day keeping is best summarized by saying worship (which enables spiritual formation) is a foreshadowing of the eternal worship John writes about in his Revelation.4 The Ancient Celtic Saints believed pagan worship of the earth and nature hinted at a heavenly Being, Who by comparison was far beyond humankind and when we praise Him, we experience a mere touch of heaven. These Christ-centered Celts believed worship of the “Eternal One” is best experienced in a “Thin Place” where the veil between heaven and earth is mystically minimized, providing a dim but expectant glimpse of glory.
Then again, perhaps “Remembering the Sabbath” and “Honoring the Lord’s Day” are best understood through the two Biblical concepts of time: Chronos and Kairos. Chronos monitors time by a clock; Kairos by a calendar. Chronos makes a slave of every man by demanding his every moment be filled by frenetic activity. Kairos makes time a slave of men by calling men out of the moment-to-moment demands and ushering them into a season of reflection, relationship and renewal. Play, which happens during Kairos, replenishes, renews and reinvigorates through re-creation. Work, even God-honoring work, which happens during Chronos, depletes, and deprives through slavish demands of obeisance to a clock. Do not be confused…humankind worships God in practicing the presence of God in daily Chronos-based vocational activities and by a celebration of Kairos-based seasonal experiences. Unfortunately however, secular culture undervalues Kairos, deems it less important and often preempts it, in favor of the “tyranny of the urgent.” It promotes a…“play is for kids, work is for adults” ethos. I firmly believe when Jesus said we must become like children, He envisioned more than a child-like faith. Certainly, a child-like joy was also hoped for.
Sunsets and sunrises (Kairos blessings) radiate intermittently changing hues of colors across luminous clouds. But these celestial displays of a heavenly Artist’s creativity last but a few fleeting minutes each day. Unless intentionally prepared for and contemplatively engaged in, their blessings are only occasionally stumbled upon, and then only by accident.
How many Kairos blessings have you missed by being driven by the Chronos culture? How many physical, relational and spiritual blessings have you forfeited by not “Remembering the Sabbath and Honoring the Lord’s Day?” When will you respond to the joyous offer of Christ to rest, play and worship? Jesus asks for a change in your commitment, your schedule and your mind-set but in exchange He offers renewing rest, joy and peace, both now and forever. Shouldn’t Sports Ministers lead the way in “re-creating” on the Sabbath?” “The Sabbath was made for man…”
1 Hebrews Chapter 4
2 Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 141. ISBN 13:978-0-8499-1870-4
3 Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2001), 74.
4 Revelation Chapter 4
Dr. Greg Linville was one of the founding members of CSRM and has served as the Executive Director since 2000. He served for 15 years as a local church sports and recreation minister and coached over 30 years at the junior high, high school and collegiate levels as well as 30 years in rec. leagues. Dr. Linville has consulted with churches from Australia, Africa, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Europe, New Zealand and North America. He was awarded the world's first honorary Doctorate in Sports Ministry and holds an earned Doctorate as well. He is the author of Christmanship: The Theology of Competition & Sport. Dr. Greg has been married for over 35 years, is the father of two married children and the grandfather of a growing number of grandchildren.