I could not help but write a blog about the return of LeBron James to Cleveland. As the fans in Cleveland celebrated his return there was one sign that caught my attention – “The King has returned.” These were the words of an adoring follower. I personally admire Lebron as a great basketball player as well as a fine person. His intention about coming back to Northeast Ohio are admirable. “I feel my calling here goes above basketball”, he said of his move to Cleveland. “I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously…I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up.”
But as a sports fan I need to keep my admiration of great athletics in perspective. Christian author, Tim Keller warns us that the human heart is an “idol factory.” In Ezekiel 14:3 God says of the elders of Israel, “These men have set up their idols in their hearts.” Men need to cautioned about unknowingly filling the void in their souls by admiring sports figures. This void can only be filled with an intimate relationship with God. Remember men, the deepest desire in your soul is for God. Only he can fill the void.
Our culture and the sports media have given sports figure like Lebron James almost mythical status. All the pregame hype on TV makes them out to be almost super human. They are talked about in words of adoration and awe. We overlook their moral flaws and are deeply disappointment when they do not preform as expected. As followers of Jesus we need to keep this hype in perspective. Why? The spiritual void in our culture that has erased a sense of the supernatural, can easily produce counterfeit worship. We are made to adore and worship greatness.
So as a sports fan, in a climate that seems to be giving greater adulation and honor to the “super-heroes” of sports I need to keep my focus on Jesus. The Palmist said that he would “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” and “would seek him in his temple.” (Ps 27:4) The Message says, “I’ll contemplate his beauty.” In other words, I will find myself being thrilled and caught up in the greatness of who Jesus is as Lord of my life. As I gaze on him with my spiritual eyes, I am filled with light. “It started when God said, ‘Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.” (II Cor. 4:6 – The Message)
Again this blog comes as a “soul alert.” Don’t underestimate the pull of the culture on your soul. Football season is about to begin. If your wife finds you absent emotionally and your kids want some of your time, it could be you have created an idol in your soul during the NFL season. Don’t let that happen to you. I challenge you to simply spend some time every day reading the story of Jesus in the gospels, while gazing on him. You will be changed. Light will fill you with the wonder of Jesus. You wouldn’t need all the “bells and whistles” of NFL Sunday to give you thrills.