Christian athletes find balance

By Garrett Jones, Contributing Writer

Being an athlete requires a competitive edge.

Emotions can overwhelm an athlete into saying some offensive things in a game.

While being competitive is a big part of succeeding as an athlete, Christian athletes can have a hard time balancing their image as a Christian and using that competitive edge.

“In high school, a guy called me the ‘n word’ and I retaliated,” freshman journalism major Trejan Lands said. “I said some things that looking back on might not have been the best.”

Lands is a football player at OBU. His relationship with Christ plays an important role in his personal and athletic life.

Playing for a Christian school sets a different expectation on athletes. Everyone watching them knows what kind of attitude to expect.

“Un-Christlike behavior got you a spot on the bench,” Will Hodges said.

Hodges was a State Championship winning baseball player for Christian Heritage Academy.

“[Maintaining the Christian Image] is the hardest part, but it’s also the number one goal,” Hodges said.

Showing signs off un-Christlike behavior could earn a player more than a spot on the bench.

Players can receive reputations based on what they do on the field that reflects who they are off of the field.

“Last game of the season against SNU, I pushed a guy, but it looked like I punched him,” Lands said. “I got backlash from the guys on the radio and my coaches. It really takes a toll on how I have to act on and off the field because I might get backlash off the field as well.”

While trying to maintain the image of Christ may take away a level of competitiveness from some, a relationship with Christ could be what it takes to perform at the next level.

“For me personally, a relationship with Christ makes me more competitive,” Hodges said. “I think of 1 Corinthians 10:31 ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things to the Glory of God.’ If I’m not playing hard, I don’t feel as if I’m glorifying God. God gave me the gifts to play sports and if I’m not using them, I’m not bringing honor to His name.”

The athletic culture is not always seen as Christian. The attitude shown by some athletes and the music associated with the culture are not often represented in the Christian community.

“People think just because you’re an athlete, you can’t be a Christian,” Lands said. “I can listen to hip-hop but I still go to church and pray every night.”

Some athletes use the non-Christian culture as an opportunity to witness.

“I think that being a Christian athlete is an excellent opportunity to be a witness for Christ,” former Arkansas All-Conference Team basketball player Noah Hill said. “You have the opportunity to build deep relationships with teammates. There is nothing like going through tough practices, hard workouts and long seasons to bring out a deep bond with teammates.”

Competitiveness is not the only component which makes athletes lash out at referees and opponents. Factor in the one thing every person struggles with, sin, and the same results appear.

“I crossed the line more than I’m proud of, but I don’t think it was from being too competitive, but more from being immature in my relationship with Christ,” Hill said. “I spent more time worrying about my jump shot than building my relationship with Jesus.”

Apathy is hard to conquer, but necessary

By Garrett Jones, Contributing Writer

The biggest enemy of success is apathy.

How do you complete any task you don’t care about? It only gets more difficult when you feel like you can’t care about it.

The more apathy takes over one thing, the more it creeps into other parts of your life. It can start with something you don’t want to do, school or work. Then it slowly creeps into your relationships with friends and family.

Maybe you stop seeing your friends as much. With apathy taking over your life, before you know it, it’s been months since you’ve seen your friends. If you let it get that far, it can suddenly take over your relationship with God. This one hurts the most. It might be the hardest to get back.

The best way to restore or even maintain a relationship with Christ is by spending time with Him in the Word or through prayer. How do you do those things when apathy has taken over your life?

It feels like you just forget to read Scripture at first. Eventually, it has completely become a chore. You don’t want to do it. Even if you can force yourself, you don’t care enough to comprehend what it means and certainly not enough to apply it to your life.

So, what do you do?

Obviously, you’re stuck in this spiderweb of detachment. It probably seems like there is no way out. It’s amazing how the lack of emotion toward something can cause more emotion than the thing itself. From my experience, there is one way out.

I will warn you, it’s not very easy. You have to be completely fed up with your apathy. The desire to destroy it has to overcome all of your natural instincts.

Pray without ceasing. I know, it sounds too simple. Quite frankly, it is too simple, but it’s the only thing that is guaranteed to work. I’ve already said prayer is something hard to care about when struggling with apathy; that’s what makes it difficult. You have to force yourself.

Set reminders on your phone. Wear a rubber band around your wrist or something. As long as you can remember, you can make yourself pray. Not only does this praying open up communication between you and God, but it changes your perspective on life. Everything you say or do is done with the mentality that God is present in your life always. Even your thoughts change.

I know it’s a difficult challenge, but if you can’t stand feeling apathetic anymore, it’s what you have to do.

Out of context scripture misses the mark

By Garrett Jones, Contributing Writer

You know what really grinds my gears? When people take Scripture out of context for a particular agenda 

I don’t mean people misunderstanding Scripture. That happens and while it isn’t a good thing, I can at least understand it.  

What really upsets me is when people quote Scripture to tell someone what they are doing is wrong, when realistically it isn’t.  

I’ll give you some examples: “Tattoos are evil!”  

Everyone who grew up in a good ol’ conservative Baptist church has probably heard something at least similar to this.  

Whether it’s from the old lady who, every time she sees you, tells you that she remembers changing your diapers when you were in the nursery, or the usher who makes visitors take their hats off in church.  

Now I’m sure these people love the Lord, and I’m sure they love you too, but they certainly are not applying the context to the verses they think speak against tattoos.  

Leviticus 19:28 says “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourself: I am the Lord. (ESV)”  

I’ll give you a little bit of context for this verse. This verse was written to the Israelites when they were enslaved by the Egyptians. During this time, the Egyptians were worshipping pagan gods by marking their skin. Moses is telling the Israelites, who are easily influenced by the culture around them, not to tattoo themselves because people will think they are worshipping pagan gods.  

Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone’s tattoos, but you’re probably not worshipping pagan gods with your bison tattoo or your tattoo that says (insert any cliché in Hebrew or Greek here). Another verse some people like to use against tattoos is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 which says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (ESV)  

These verses are absolutely true… when speaking about sexual immorality.  

Seriously, just look at any of the seven verses before them. Paul is specifically talking about not being sexually immoral.  

“Do what your government tells you”  

In June of 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” when speaking about prosecuting anyone who crosses the border from Mexico. 

 This one really makes my blood boil.  

As I’ve proven so far, taking Scripture out of context upsets me, but using God’s loving word to defend such hateful actions is absolutely disgusting.  

In this passage, Paul has written to the church in Rome. Now, at the time, this church had recently been joined back together after a new emperor of Rome made it legal for Jews to live in Rome.  

Up until that time, it had been illegal for several years. Paul is specifically telling the Jews of the church not to act out against their government.  

Why? Because he doesn’t want them to get kicked out again!  

I’m not trying to say that you should do everything in your will to act out against your own government. I doubt it would be very easy to glorify God while doing that.  

But I don’t think that disobeying your government is, within itself, sinful. If your government made it illegal to own a Bible, would it be sinful to own one?  

(I don’t think I have to tell you the answer to that one.)  

“You can’t be poor and glorify God.”  

College students, this one goes out to you.  

In an interview with Oprah, Joel Osteen said “I can’t be a blessing to people if I’m poor and broke.”  

I feel like I shouldn’t even have to comment on this one.  

Joel, do you have a minute to hear about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  

This one is so blatantly stupid that if I didn’t know who Joel Osteen was, I probably would just think he’s crazy.  

Folks, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Osteen wants your money, and he’ll tell you anything you want to hear in order to get it.  

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24 (ESV)  

Scripture is such an incredible gift from God. It is literally the Creator of the universe speaking to us. It has never been more accessible to us than it is now.  

We should never take it for granted.  

So the next time someone quotes Scripture to you, in an effort to prove their point, kindly speak the truth in love and tell them “I will have to look into that” Then thoroughly do your own research of the Word. Or just write a column about it.