Iím twenty-three, and yet, I am still embarrassed by my actions carried out in my days of youth basketball at my church. I was playing for my team, friends, and family. However, most of all, I was playing for myself. As such, I was not playing for Christ, and as you watched me play this became obvious. More than likely you saw me complaining to the refs, getting a technical, or possibly even getting ready to take part in a fight.
Why did my game look like this? The answer has already been stated; I was playing for myself, not Jesus. Basketball was a chance for me to feel good about myself, by taking away my shortcomings. Therefore, I yelled at a ref when I thought he was getting in the way of me trying to impress the crowd. I was even willing to fight another player so that my image of being a tough basketball player was not lost on anyone. How sad I now know my actions were. I was displaying my insecurities when I thought I was hiding them. Instead of being secure because of the God who lives in me, I was insecure. My insecurity had nothing to do with my game; I was often the leading scorer on my team. It was insecurity with being accepted for who I was, and I didnít even know who that was at the time.
I think of the younger kids who might have been watching me, and I feel guilty for my poor display of sportsmanship that I left for them to imitate. I think of the crowd who could have seen a display of Christ in me if I would have refused to engage in a fight because I was focused on pleasing the Father. Why is this important? Chances are you know someone who plays basketball, or who is in the crowd, that does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is why your sportsmanship in this game is so important. Your actions have the chance to influence peoplesí minds about the God you claim to follow. You can be the hypocrite, or you can be a disciple of the greatest God you could ever wish to serve on and off the basketball court.
So what is this game all about to you? Is it about you looking your best? What an easy goal to have, itís what society has told you to do. I bought into it one hundred percent. However, let me present you with another option, another goal. Show others a player who imitates the life of Christ by his or her demeanor towards the officials, players, and crowd. You can have this goal and still enjoy yourself completely at one of the worldís greatest games. Donít make the mistake of thinking you canít be like Christ and have fun at the same time. I wish I could look back at my days of playing church basketball and feel like there was a good chance I affected someone in a positive manner towards Jesus. Hopefully you will think about what is important; a game, or the chance to make an eternal impact. The choice is yours.