Rick Reilly wrote an article for Sports Illustrated in 2003 titled, “Let Us Play.” He described in his article how many families in America are opting to engage in recreational activities on Sunday instead of attending worship services. He quoted many religious leaders who have decried the loss of spirituality in our society. Reilly attributed this to parents placing too much importance on the success of their children in sports. He wrote, “For some reason over-caffeinated parents feel they have to ‘keep up’ with the Joneses. They used to do it with their cars. Now they do it with their kids.” Reilly also commented on parents inundating their children with recreation. Again, he wrote, “…I just feel sorry for these kids who get nothing but organized sports crammed down their gullets 24/7.”
The Bible tells us what is truly important in this life. We are told to love God more than anything else. Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). We are told to put the Lord first in everything we do. Paul says, “I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service” (Romans 12:1). The writer of Hebrews makes it plain where our energy should be directed when he says, “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
Rick Reilly may not be a person we would normally turn to for spiritual advice, but his article helps to remind us that the Lord expects us to put him first. When we choose other activities over him we are not putting him first, and we simultaneously send very same message to our children. Reilly made a tremendous point when he wrote, “Just remember, when little Shaniqua has two free throws to win or lose a game on some Sunday morning, good luck finding somebody who’ll answer your prayers.” Let us all remember what is truly important in this life and strive to always put God first.