In high school, I took sports very seriously. I trained hard and put up hundreds of shots each day in the summer. During basketball season I took care of my body and prepared intensely for each game to make sure I could perform my best. Now, I am a competitive backyard athlete - I still love sports, I still love playing at a high level, and I still love winning.
Yet as a Christian, I've heard this question many times:
Do sports matter to God?
Let me assure you, they do. Sports matter to God. They matter to God because everything matters to God.
A.W. Tozer, in The Pursuit of God talks about exactly why this is the case. We have come to split our lives in two parts: the first part is "spiritual" - things going to church, praying, and reading the Bible. The second part is "secular" - work, school, eating, sleeping, and sports.
We feel really good about doing "spiritual" things; these are the things that please God! And we marginalize the "secular", viewing them as either a waste of time or a necessary evil.
But nowhere in the Bible do we find a distinction between the sacred and the secular. In fact, we see clearly that this distinction is flawed. Jesus says in John 8:29 - "I do always those things that please him". 1 Corinthians 10:31 is even more clear: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
Christ's death on the cross and His redemption of us as Christians is not supposed to result in a new routine that we add: sprinkling a weekly church service or two, a bible study, and a daily thirty minutes of prayer and bible reading into our otherwise meaningless life.
Christ came so that we "may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). Yes, that absolutely includes prayer and church and Bible reading. But it also includes work, school, eating, and playing sports.
We are not called to sprinkle the spiritual into our secular lives. We are called to see our entire life through a new lens. We are called to transform all that we used to do for our good, for our glory, and for our gain into an act of worship - praising God and giving all glory to Him!