Thursday, March 27, 2008

Can an AFL footballer love God and Footy?


Just read a very interesting Article by Caroline Wilson about Daniel Wells who is a top-line player for the North Melbourne footy club and is obviously , by reading the article, a church attendee / believer in God.

The read leans towards stating that because of Daniel’s love for God, then maybe, his love and passion for footy is waning after not playing one convincing game on the weekend?

Now we know that the media are trying to sell a paper so I’m going to take the actual article with a pinch of salt but this is something I have often wondered about, that if a club or any other institution asks for a very strong commitment to something, can the world of passionately following Jesus and passionately following the club/institution/whatever, co-exist?

In the past for me this would have been far more difficult to answer. My upbringing has leant towards two different lives existing here on this earth. People that follow Jesus and are on the good side and people that don’t and are on the other side. This is the best blunt view I can come up with, there would be some space in between at times.

I can remember playing sport on Sundays and feeling incredibly guilty because I didn’t attend a church service. Whether this was guilt put on me or how I just felt I’m not sure but what I do know is that it came from a perception that doing something other, something that I loved to do, than going to church on that Sunday made me feel weird, as if I was doing something wrong. This wasn’t just about attending church though, this was about my relationship with God and the teaching I had received, both in word and example, that the two loves of sport and God were opposing, not complimentary.

I’m guessing this comes from the whole salt and light thing where scripture does seem to make some distinctions about what is right and wrong behavior, whether to be ‘in’ the world and not ‘of’ it etc How vehemently this is taught will probably have a bearing of what our view of how the world and relationship with God can co-exist.

Another example of this would be how in Trade School I wouldn’t go and have a beer with the other guys because to me alcohol was wrong so I simply wouldn’t go, I didn’t even entertain the thought of having a coke with them there just to build relationship because the pub was one of those places you just avoided. This affected my relationship with those guys big time. I had a turbulent relationship with them all as they probably thought I was arrogant and judgmental, not wanting to do those ‘bad’ things they were doing.

So, let’s cut to the chase.

I’ve had a fair bit of growing to do. In my relationship with God, in discovering who I am, through pastoring in the church, in discovering life and what it means to follow Jesus passionately and try and keep relationships as important and not let ‘religion’ rule my actions. To try and follow Jesus and what I believe He wants of my life and my interaction with this world I’ve come to understand that this isn’t about playing a religious game but just trying to be like Jesus in everything I do and learn what that means, rediscovering this all the time.

One of the refreshing parts of this journey is the understanding I have come to that God is at work in all places, in people who attend church and in people who don’t. I figure if I’m just involved church and church is my life and God is impacting someone ‘out there’ then doesn’t He want people like me to help them understand who this God is? Doesn’t He want me to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever I go? Doesn’t he want AFL footballers to know Jesus too? What about people in the pub? People I am friends with? God is at work in them, He loves them. If oneday they are having a God moment and they don’t even realize, maybe God may want me to help them understand that God is real and He is at work. Maybe they may actually see in me something they feel is missing, maybe that’s God?

So can the two co-exist? This I believe, is what we were actually created for. Created for God and for people wherever we are, whatever we do. The reason, I believe, why sometimes we feel they can’t co-exist, is because going to church and the religion that has been created of the years, has caused us to separate real life and Christianity. We have also been very comfortable inside our church walls. . . . .

So can Daniel Wells be passionate about footy and God? Yes, because life was meant to be this way and while much of footy at this level is about $, the reality is that people make it happen and where people are, God wants to work in them . . . doesn’t He?

Obviously there are going to be some boundaries that God may want of us, like I’m not going to join a gang of thieves and be a thief to build relationships?? This is not all black and white though is it?

So my advice to Daniel would be: Make the kingdom of God your primary concern, love Him with all your heart, live life how He wants you to live. Love people in the best way you possibly can and do your very best with the gifts that God has given. . . . . . . I think we understand this isn’t just for Daniel.

Just so you know . . . . beer is great!

3 comments:

Mike said...

Glen,

I just came across your blog. Nice to meet ya

Glenn Globber said...

Hey Mike,
Good to have ya round, thanks for dropping by.
Glenn

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