It’s Sunday so it’s good to wonder aloud on a day dedicated as much to beer and football as it is to the Lord about all those athletes who’ll be kneeling and pointing skyward today.
When did it become de rigueur for athletes to invoke the Almighty for every phase of their game? A story in yesterday’s paper mentions how Golfer Rickie Fowler marks his golf balls with “4.13” Philippians, professing that he can “do everything through him who gives me strength.” See Religion and the Ryder Cup. What I write on my golf balls are facetious admonishments that my playing partners not steal my ball.
Public displays of faith are hardly a new thing. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, for instance, around since 1954, uses “the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ.”
Thanks to our 24/7 sports media culture, we know more than we care to about athletic peccadillo and perfection. Nothing’s private or personal, especially religion. In fact, not long ago, CNN asked, “When did God become a sports fan?,” as it examined the spectacle of athletes thanking God for touchdowns and home runs.
Ultimate fighters even do it. To respond to critics, full contact fighter Jason David Frank collaborated with Christian rapper K-Drama in song: “When I’m in the cage, I’m full of rage, I’ll ground, pound, kick you in the face, but it’s all good ’cause I’m in the right place. The power I get is driven from God, so don’t be mad, it’s just my job.” See Jesus as the ultimate ultimate fighter.
Faith is a good thing.
Still, I believe faith is a good thing. I’m just not sure about ‘glass house‘ public displays when there are so many bricks lying about. It raises the bar pretty high. Think Mark Sanford.
On more than one occasion, for example, I’ve been flipped the bird by someone flying the Ichthys on their car. So call me skeptical.
But don’t call me unique. John Armstrong, for one, ruminated about it back in 1999 in “Christians Aren’t Perfect, Just Forgiven” when a car with that bumper sticker slogan cut him off in traffic. At least, Armstrong didn’t get the one-finger salute. But you catch my drift about truth in advertising.
I even know a lawyer with a Scripture quote on his business card. I don’t remember which quote and I probably wouldn’t say if I remembered. But far as I know, at least he doesn’t drop to one knee in court and point skyward when a ruling goes his way.
Still, if and when I ever make a 50 foot putt from off the green, I may be tempted to model an athlete’s faith-stricken conduct and take a drop to the grass, my putter aloft. Given my golf game, you just never know. Those sports stars may be on to something.