As a wimp and a geek myself, rugby has never been my favourite sport. However, I have been surprised that even I have been interested in the Rugby World Cup currently being contested in NZ.
There have been some impressive games and watching rugby being played at this level is quite awesome – these are big, powerful men moving with great skill and agility in a brutal game. Any one of those tackles would put me in hospital for a week!
The commitment, training and practise needed to be an All Black is beyond anything most of us would be prepared to do. They really do need to be obsessed with rugby to make the grade. It takes absolute passion for the game to even be considered for selection.
Other players stand out not only for their athletic ability but also for the stand they take for Christ in an environment dominated by very macho attitudes. Men such as Michael Jones who refused to play on Sundays, leading to criticism and not being selected for some international tours. Yet the good he has done as a role model for Samoan youth is beyond measure.
I was impressed to discover that a member of the Scottish rugby team, Euan Murray is taking a similar stance regarding playing on Sundays. I love what he is quoted as saying:
“It’s basically all or nothing, following Jesus. I don’t believe in pick ‘n’ mix Christianity. I believe the Bible is the word of God, so who am I to ignore something from it?”
“I might as well tear out that page then keep tearing out pages as and when it suits me. If I started out like that there would soon be nothing left.”
Even for ‘non-sporting types’ like me there is inspiration, an example and a rebuke to be gained from top athletes, more so when they are intentionally giving glory to God for their abilities. We can all appreciate the discipline, training and all out dedication to the sport exhibited by sports people. Paul encourages us to put their example to work in our devotion to Christ.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV)