We have established that we live in a compartmentalized world – with tragic results in life and in sports.
Coaches, who appear calm and cool outside of sports, lose it on the court or field. Players, who espouse Christian ethics and values, cheat in order to win. The bigger problem – few think this is a problem!!!
If you agree and see the compartmentalized life in contrast to what God intended, you hopefully are asking, “What can be done about this problem of compartmentalization?”
The answer – INTEGRATION.
To integrate is to 1) bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole; 2) to make up, combine, or complete to produce a whole or a larger unit, as parts do; 3) to unite or combine.
This is what Paul had in mind when he said, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
In saying “Whatever you do,” Paul points out the reality that life is full of all kinds of seemingly disconnected things – work, entertainment, sleeping, eating, church, returning email, voting in elections. The same could be said about sports – warm ups, cool downs, plays, time between plays, coaching. Lots of “whatevers” in “whatever you do,” don’t you think?
Yet, after affirming the diversity of our lives, he startlingly states “Do it all.” He calls us to resist the tendency to build walls between these activities and compartmentalize them and unite them, integrate them, bring them together and “incorporate them into a whole.”
How? How could all the variety of life and sports – all the whatever we does become a do it all?
Paul’s answer – by doing them all “for the glory of God”! Pursuing the glory of God becomes the key to tearing down the walls that compartmentalize our lives and bring them into one unity.
But what does it mean – “do it all for the glory of God”?
As I have asked people this question, the answers I get show why we are so compartmentalized. We don’t know what this unifying principle means, so how can we obey it, and see its power to bring this integration?
When it comes to God, the Scriptures show us his glory has two components:
- The inherent nature, the internal possession, the inner quality of his magnificence, his absolute unparalleled greatness – the glorious splendor of his majesty
- The outer recognition of this inherent greatness
We will call the first component – His flame. The second – His fame.
Seeing these two components helps me understand this unifying principle. I don’t do anything for the first component of his glory, his flame. This splendor of his majesty is secure and stable, beyond tarnish by anything I do.
It is this second component, his fame, that brings “whatever I do” unity and meaning. Since God is worthy of “the whole earth being filled with his glory” – his acclaim, his praise, his honor,Paul says do all of the whatever we do for this fame.
Do you see what this means? Paul says that the way I do what I do can actually bring fame, recognition, honor to the greatness of God – no matter what it is that I do. This means everything means something – when it is done for the glory of God. This glory, this fame is the unifying, the integrating principle.
Historically, when cultures have gotten this – the fact that everything is “sacred,” there is no second rate occupations, no secular activities, everything has meaning – it has transformed the cultures. Luther declared this truth through the Reformation and the result – some of if not the greatest music, architecture, and literature the world has ever seen. All from men and women who did “whatever they did, they did it all for the glory of God.”
Could we see another such revolution in sports? That depends upon each one of us to get it and then call others to get it. For each of us to resist the pull toward compartmentalization and to heed this call to integrate every aspect of our sports world under the unifying principle of the glory of the One who alone is worthy of such honor, such glory, such praise.
When we get it, when we integrate our lives under this grand ideal, everything matters. Every bit of every game, of every practice matters, and we are left crying out – “Not to us, not to us, but to your name give glory.”