Passion in Our Play (Part 4)

By Nate Hartman

August 20, 2010

Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to Gandalf; and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head…But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near; ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat on his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him. And then Faramir cried, ‘Behold the King!’ (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King)

My soul to the Lord has said, ‘You are my Lord. No goodness have I beyond You’…My heart’s glad. My soul joys. (Psalm 16:2, 9)

O sing a new song to the Lord; all earth sing to the Lord. Sing to the Lord and bless His name; ‘He saves!” each day proclaim. (Psalm 96:2)

We are lured by the lie – often, in fact – that worship is something we undergo, like a surgery or an inspection. We show up at church and listen to a sermon; God convicts us of our sins and sends us back into another week with the task of living better, being more faithful to Him. The problem with such a view of worship – besides the fact that it is dreadfully dull and oppressive – is that it revolves around us. The worshipper can never been the center of true worship; when we subscribe to such a view of worship, we have lost any promise or hope, joy or life. Genuine worship is a response; in recognition of the wholeness granted to us by the mighty King of the entire universe and all of life, we pour out in completeness our hearts and lives in praise, proclaiming that “before Him honor, majesty, and strength and splendor be!” (Psalm 96:6)

Likewise, any athletic endeavor that amounts to self-service will quickly become dull and oppressive, will be drained of promise or hope, joy or life. We can look good, perform impressively, act like Christians; we can claim a love for the game, revel in competition, work hard; we can improve year after year, earn awards and honors for our valor and character, and even make friends along the way. However, each of us is reminded that no seed of speech, activity, knowledge, ability of character – purposed to serve itself – will produce a crop of excellence. Without love “I am nothing…I gain nothing” (Psalm 13:1-3).


Nate Hartman is the director of the National Christian School Athletic Association, located in Beaver Falls, PA.  His years of involvement as a student, athlete, teacher, coach, and athletic director at Christian schools have made him passionate about athletics that "declares the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into HIs marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

This is Part 4 of a five-part series entitled "Passion in Our Play, which will be continued throughout this week on the NCSAA web site.


Republished from Passion in Play (September/October 2003) - Copyright © 2003 NCSAA

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