Football and Freedom

Football and Freedom

Featured in the November, 2015 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News

Fred’s high school was big on football. The football players, the cheerleaders and the members of the school band were the envied students.

Since their team had gone from victory to victory and year after year won the state championship, Fred wanted more than anything else to be on that team. He could see himself on the field running across the goal line with the ball while everyone was cheering. Winning must be thrilling !

But when Fred talked to the coach, he found out that there was an “A” team and a “B” team and a waiting list and some rules !

Fred really loved junk food and thought he might be a bit pudgy, bur the coach said, “You’re fat, and you need to go on a diet and exercise.” Well, he didn’t need to be that blunt about it; neither did Fred realize there was a summer training camp which required many hours watching films, workouts in the weight room and learning an assortment of offensive and defensive plays.

There was also a strict diet which did not include Fred’s normal meals. Once school started, Fred would be required to practice every day after school which would leave no time for TV.

The burning desire Fred had to be on that winning team was beginning to wane. Fred liked to dress in sloppy clothes to show his individuality, but football players had to wear uniforms. He liked candy bars and malts, but there was a diet. He like to lie around and watch TV, but there were rough exercises and strenuous practice times. Fred was good at doing his own thing, but was not so enthusiastic about being part of a team.

Fred finally decided that if he wanted to flaunt his personal freedom, football was not for him.

There are many Christians who want to be winners, who want to be filled with the Spirit and live victorious lives and not endure the daily shame of being defeated by Satan.

But, no one automatically experiences spiritual power and victory. There are born again people who want the spiritual results, but not the spiritual rules.

No systematic Bible study, no regular gathering with God’s people, no serious commitment to the Lord, no accountability to other believers, no personal discipline, no submission to the Word of God and no team spirit adds up to a string of spiritual defeats.

Coach Vince Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers to stunning victories and all-time football fame, but he was a tough leader who said, “I will demand a commitment to excellence and to victory.” One of Vince’s players told how during his junior year the night before Thanksgiving he was scrubbing and waxing the kitchen floor, and a few minutes after 10 p.m. Vince walked in and said, “you’re not playing tomorrow” because he had not been in bed by 10 p.m. Curfews, diets, grueling practices, and stringent discipline under Coach Lombardi brought the football victories. Personal freedom was the price paid for team success.

Today, we have a lot of Christians who want to indulge fleshly desires and yet have spiritual conquests. A lot of current talk about Christian liberty is no more than nonsense. It is foolish freedom that results in failure. Liberty is not license to violate the Word of God and live a sub-Christian life.

As in academics, in business, in sports, so in the Christian life there is always a price to pay for success.

The apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that in a race the runners all run, but only one can get the prize? You must run in such a way that you can get the prize. Any man who enters an athletic contest practices rigid self-control in training, only to win a wreath that withers, but we are in to win a wreath that never withers. So, that is the way I run, with no uncertainty as to winning. That is the way I box, not like one that punches the air. But, I keep on beating and bruising my body and making it my slave, so that I, after I have summoned others to the race, may not myself become unfit to run” (I Corinthians 9:24-27, Williams).