Athlete, You Are Giving Yourself


Athlete, You Are Giving Yourself

Jason cooper

John 1:14 (NIV)

The Word became flesh ...

Imagine if you only played your sport virtually – as a video game. What if that was as real as it got? What if we didn’t have bodies and there wasn’t a way to play sports in any way, but on a screen? 

Then, sports would just be hypothetical. If you won, the victory would just be technical, not actual or physical. 

What if the same thing was true about Jesus? What if He didn’t come in reality, but just virtually, conceptually, or hypothetically? Instead of coming in bone and blood, He would’ve just appeared in pixels or on paper. 

We recently went to a Lakers vs. Timberwolves basketball game. As I watched LeBron dive on the floor for a loose ball, I thought, “These athletes are giving their very selves, not merely an extension of themselves. Their bodies and wills are on 360 degree display.”

I thought, “They are exerting themselves in front of thousands of people as we observe and judge them from every angle.” 

The Lakers and Timberwolves players weren’t hiding at all. They were taking a risk of looking like fools in front of all of us if they messed up. They were willing to be public spectacles. They entrusted themselves to everyone’s judgments, which are often unfair. 

That made me think how Christlike the simple act of playing sports is.

Jesus gave His very self, not merely an extension of Himself. His body and will were on 360 degree display. He exerted Himself in front of thousands of people as they observed and judged Him. 

Jesus wasn’t hiding. He risked looking like a fool in front of everyone. He became accessible and assailable when He became a clumsy fragile human. 

He entrusted Himself to everyone’s unfair judgements. And was wrongly sentenced to death and made the ultimate spectacle. 

That’s how much He loved us – to be stripped down to nothing, vulnerable, alone with death, spread out on a cross. There is no greater way to communicate love to human beings who are utterly physical and in utter need of physical healing. 

God didn’t just wave a wand and say, “forgiven,” or “I love you.” He put His love on display in the most real and bodily way possible. No alternative exhibition would have sufficed, because love gives its very self – no less, and no more, because there’s no such thing as more.

This is how we know God’s love is real – it’s enfleshed. It’s not just technical. It’s not just on paper or in pixels. It’s in reality – our time and space – not some ethereal place.  

We should marvel at Jesus’ display – and not just the theological mechanics of it – but the bone and blood reality of it. Pondering the profound corporeality of Jesus’ whole life, death and resurrection can move us in ways that head knowledge and factoids can’t. 

Student athlete, the next time the bleachers and sidelines fill up, think about how you are on display as Jesus was on display. As you give your very self, be reminded that Jesus gave His very self in a similar way.


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