While much of the recent focus of the sports world has been on the courts—first with NCAA March Madness and now with the NBA playoffs—now the center of the US sports universe is not on the court but in the court. With Monday’s ruling from Judge Susan Nelson declaring the NFL lockout of its players to be illegal, NFL fans are waiting to see what will happen when the league’s appeal is decided upon—in the courts. It is a surreal time, when (arguably) the world’s most successful and lucrative sports league is now mired in a legal tug-of-war that has no clear end in sight. It is the sad reality of what happens in our world when people, organizations, or corporate interests cannot resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiation.
For those of us who seek to live as Christ-followers, we are challenged to a higher standard as we deal with one another. To a church in conflict (James 4:1-3), James wrote that our path is not to be characterized by the wisdom of a world (James 3:15-16) that seeks its own interests at the expense of others, but rather is to display the heart of a peacemaker (James 3:17-18). The key question is how that is to be done, and I think the answer is later in James 4. There, the apostle wrote:
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7)
I think a couple of things come through strongly here. First, our dependencies in life are on the grace of God and His provision, which means, second, that we must submit everything to Him—including our disagreements, conflicts, and battles—and entrust them to His provision as well. The court system exists (as part of human government) for appropriate purposes and appropriate situations, but for children of God, we are not looking for the world to be made right in the courts. Only the God of grace can do that.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain