Last Wednesday, my preferred radio station was talking about a survey recently performed by the Public Religion Research Institute on whether the Lord plays a role in outcomes of sports events. If you haven’t already read it, here is the original news release and survey results. Now, I take any survey with a grain of salt because statistics are only as good as the survey itself. In this case, only a little over 1,000 adults were polled by telephone, which is much too narrow of a sampling (in my opinion) for this poll to have any significant merit.
“In an era where professional sports are driven by dollars and statistics, significant numbers of Americans see a divine hand at play,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, PRRI CEO. “Roughly 3-in-10 Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins, and a majority believe that God rewards faithful athletes.”
The morning show hosts were discussing whether the Lord cares about the outcome of a sports event in regards to the outspokenness of each player. One of the hosts stated that perspective didn’t account for players whose faith may be very important to them, but were not as publicly outspoken about it. Subsequently, you couldn’t accurately say whether one team was more heavily faith-based than the other. That led into a discussion about Christians in general being outspoken.
Once I started thinking about it, I decided the hosts’ perspectives were skewed by their own personal definitions of outspoken.
(1) uttered or expressed with frankness or without reserve.
(2) free or unreserved in speech.
I am, based on the definition above, outspoken about my faith. I don’t hide it or shy from conversations about it, and I’m not afraid to insert my faith into conversations when appropriate. But at the same time, I’m humble about my faith. I’m not going to shout it from the rooftops or shove it in someone’s face, and rarely will you find me in front of a group of people with microphone in hand, but I do my best to live my life in a way I feel will please my Lord and let His light and His love shine through me.
(1) not proud or arrogant; modest.
(2) having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.
(3) low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly.
(4) courteously respectful
(5) low in height, level, etc.; small in size.
The Lord blesses each of us as He sees fit to do so. Some of us are blessed with the gift of being a good, or a great, athlete; others are blessed with gifts in art or music or public speaking. While I am blessed with none of those things, I know my Lord doesn’t bless me any less than His other faithful children; He blesses me differently because He knows my needs.
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” (ESV)
Luke 14:11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (ESV)
I think those that are more outspoken about their faith face a higher risk of becoming prideful in it. There are some people for whom it will become more about doing the works than living the faith. For others, it won’t be an issue. Why? I don’t know. Maybe some are more grounded in His Word, maybe some live more in the world, maybe it’s just part of who we are as people and that we each have free will to make our own choices – good or bad. When my day comes to kneel at His feet, I pray He deems me wise and exalted, and I honestly don’t feel it’s going to matter that I’m private and reserved and not in-your-face publicly outspoken here on earth.
And as far as whether the Lord plays a role in outcomes of sports events? I’m sure he cares about the outcome of the game in a general sense, that as His children, he always cares about what happens to us, even the little things. Does He impact the game itself? No, I don’t think so. Not outside of the talents He gave the players anyway, and even then it’s up to the players to work hard and make the most of the talent they were blessed with.