“And he [Jesus] said to him, ‘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 first commandment.'”
Baseball season is in full swing and I’ll just go ahead and get an admission out of the way: I love it. Be it on the radio, television, or in person, a baseball game always puts me in a happy zone. Watching my son’s team is my favorite, but any baseball game will do, whether it’s little league or big league.
But if I’m honest, I can get carried away with baseball. If I’m not paying attention, baseball can become an idol that snatches my passion and focus away from God. Though the game is fun, healthy, and wholesome in so many ways, I have to remember not to make a false god out of it.
As silly as it may sound, I have to constantly be aware that there is a difference between enjoying something and worshiping it. Martin Luther once said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your god.”
If that is true, what is the difference between harmlessly enjoying something versus worshiping it as a god? Well, I’m still in the process of sorting that out, but here are a few things that I have found to be helpful:
- Be up front with God about the temptation. One of the best things we can do to keep potential idols in check is to acknowledge our tendency to take the enjoyment of something too far. Speaking the truth always liberates. Since God already knows us thoroughly, we are free to speak candidly with Him about it. For me, it sounds something like “Lord, thank you for the game of baseball. Help me to enjoy it without worshipping it today. Help me to remember that nothing can take your place. Nothing – absolutely nothing – can save me or satisfy me like You do.”
- Understand that God put idolatry off-limits because it hurts people. When God gave commandment #1 to Moses, “You shall have no gods before me” (Exodus 20:3), it was because He knew full well that idols always makes promises, promises, promises, but end up letting people down when it matters most. Only God can be God. As someone once said, when God says “Don’t,” what He means is “Don’t hurt yourself.” And as John cautions, “…He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:20-21).
- Invite the Lord to be a part of the things that you enjoy. Sometimes we forget that God cares about every aspect of our lives – not just the “spiritual” things like church or Bible study. Listen, if it matters to you, it matters to Him. So, as you begin an activity that you enjoy – any activity – why not take a moment to invite Him to come along?
“An idol is a substitute for God – anything that we trust and serve instead of the Lord.”Warren Wiersbe
For years now, my son and I have a custom that, as we get close to the ball field, one of us will pray and acknowledge the Lord’s presence with us. We ask that He keep participants safe and that He receive the honor in all that takes place, whether we win or lose.
We love baseball, but we have to remember not to make an idol out of it.
Help us, Lord.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.