“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24, NIV).
This text mentions the sporting activities of Greece in biblical times. Today we know the Olympic Games in their modern version— a Greek heritage in which several athletes strive in their disciplines to win a medal.
Today, with the Tokyo Olympic Games underway, there is greater evidence of the sport on the world stage. And this allows us to reflect on some issues related to it in society and how Christians can get involved in sports.
The United Nations Development Programme's “Movement is Life” report indicates physical activities and sports have a positive relationship with health, sociability, cognition, and quality of life1.
On the other hand, it also highlights profound social challenges that interfere with human development, such as the lack of financial resources, available time, or opportunities for its practice.
In the field of high-performance athletics, sport cannot always be considered synonymous with health, since athletes reach maximum effort, causing them injuries and, consequently, a short professional life (early retirement).
On the other hand, as someone who does not develop such activities professionally, we can benefit from the practice of sports, games, and activities that should be offered from childhood in schools and community spaces. For this, we need public policies that allow the offer of adequate and safe spaces, professionals trained to guide the population, and leisure time in good quantity and quality.
Christians can practice sports, games, and activities as they can significantly contribute to their personal, social, and spiritual development.
Following biblical advice, what changes should be targeted? While athletes strive for an earthly prize, the Christian athlete strives to preach the gospel. And for that, being in good physical condition is important.
It's not about having a “perfect body”; it's about having health and well-being to fulfill the Master's command to preach the gospel to the whole world (see Matthew 28:19, 20).
Seventh-day Adventists are recognized for their health message, which includes exercise. Playing sports and games promotes this message, even as a witness to society.
How about taking advantage of this Olympic moment to start practicing some sport or physical activity? Of course, while honoring all the security protocols in response to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, we look forward to the day when we will be awarded at the greatest event in the world by the hands of Christ Himself, not with a medal, but with the crown of life!