For people living in a society so obsessed with sports and so given over to them, I’m not sure that enough Christians have paused to consider what they think about sports in a way that is firmly biblical. I can think of only a small handful of books that have considered sports in light of Scripture and that have offered truly Christian ways of thinking about them. Into this void steps Stephen Altrogge with his newly published Game Day for the Glory of God.
In this book Altrogge seeks to encourage Christians to enjoy the gift of sports and to seize the opportunities sports give us to bring glory to God. He wants to see Christians understand sports as a means of growing in godliness. Thus he grounds the book in the gospel and dedicates the first chapter to an explanation of the gospel message. In the second chapter he shows that God is the source of all talent and that our right response is to thank him, rather than glorify ourselves, for any of our athletic accomplishments. He turns next to the joy of sports, teaching that the joy of winning, the exhilaration of victory, is a reflection of God’s excellence. In pursuing victory, we are mimicking the God of victory. The fourth chapter deals with “Game Day Priorities,” pointing to humility, passion, self-control, trust and dependence as the character traits that should define those who wish to play sports to the glory of God. Chapter five looks at winning and losing, warning against temptations that may befall those who are driven to win, but (thankfully) not suggesting that winning is meaningless as long as we all have fun. The last chapter encourages parents to help their children understand the proper place of sports and the proper attitude with which to approach them. Appended to the book is an essay from C.J. Mahaney titled “Fathers, Sons, and Sports” in which Mahaney gives wisdom specific to fathers as they seek to help their sons enjoy sports for all of the right reasons.
While Game Day for the Glory of God is a book that offers few surprises, it is still a book that is well worth reading. All I would wish for the book is that it would deal more with those of us who are more likely to enjoy sports from the vantage point of a couch rather than a soccer pitch or a tennis court. It is geared almost entirely to those who play sports while only touching on issues related to those who primarily watch them.
At a time when sport supplants religion and athletes are reverenced as heroes, it does us good to consider if and how we can use sports to bring honor to God. In Game Day for the Glory of God, Stephen Altrogge does just that, exploring both the benefits and challenges that await those of us who enjoy the action and drama of sports. Stephen relies on the Bible’s timeless wisdom to guide us to a deeper appreciation of God and a deeper abiding in the truths of the gospel on game day and every day.