Giving God the Glory
By Ronald Graham
“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4:16.
I’m not a big fan of sports whether Football or NASCAR. Although, prior to Christ entering my life and changing my thought processes, I was addicted to professional football, but when Jesus got a hold of my heart my interest in many worldly activities waned and ultimately vanished. I no longer watch programmed TV, and haven’t for many years. I do understand, though, that many people find enjoyment, in watching sports and also participating in them. High school football has a big draw especially here in the Midwest where we live. This being the Bible belt, many of those players are followers of Jesus Christ. Can a born again believer in Christ, while participating in a team sport, glorify God?
I recently read a news release about a high school football player who carried a football into the other team’s end zone for a touchdown and immediately went to one knee and pointed up with one hand, he was publically giving God the glory for his accomplishment. To the “press” he made the following statement.
“It’s just something I do every time I get in the end zone. To honor my Lord because I play for him. I give him the glory because he’s the one that gives me the strength.”
Praise God, so far so good right? But as in most cases of a public display of our faith today there comes the inevitable opposition. In this youngster’s case it came from the referees in the form of a flag on the play, and a nullification of the touchdown. Not only was the touchdown forfeited but the offensive team was penalized 15 yards. The young man, probably after his coach spoke to him, reversed his decision to give the glory to God every time he reached the end zone and to refrain from publicly displaying his faith in Christ on the gridiron.
Apparently he would continue to be penalized throughout that entire league’s conferences if he did not refrain from publically showing reverence to God. Although those who instituted this league rule say they did it to prevent unsportsmanlike conduct – “calling attention to oneself on the field” – I’m sure the motive was to stop those who feel it necessary to give God the glory for their abilities from doing so publically. This young man’s decision to play football for God and for His glory abruptly ended after the penalty; he made a decision to place his team and teammates before God. The young football player’s comment after the game was:
“I’ll change it for the team cause they are the most important; we don’t want the penalty”.
Suddenly, it seems, the team is the most important part of his life and God will no longer be publically recognized or glorified. Many Christians today react in this same manner whenever they are confronted with opposition to their faith. If it is a decision they must make between political correctness and God, for the most part they’ll choose political correctness every time. Where does that leave the glory due God? Well certainly not in the public arena.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about the young man’s decision. At some point in his young life he became a believer in Christ, and having done so apparently he wanted to be faithful to God even on the gridiron. So he made a commitment to give God the glory for all his abilities. He determined that each time he reached the end zone he would proclaim his faith in Jesus Christ by glorifying His Savior publically.
Alas, at the first sign of resistance to his faith he crumbled. After professing his faith in the Creator of the universe he then “very publically” chose his teammates over Jesus Christ. What happened? What changed in his young mind that would convince him to publicly relegate Jesus to a position less significant than that of his teammates? And where did Jesus finally end up? He was benched.
“Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Romans 10:11. We shouldn’t cower or back down when opposition arises. There should be no difference in our demeanor private or public toward the Creator of the universe. And no team is more important than God.
Once we make the decision to relegate God to a position other than number 1 in our lives He begins a gradual slip into obscurity. Until we realize what we’ve done wrong, God will always take a back seat in our decision making processes. The young man made a wrong choice. He was able to talk the talk but when it came to walking the walk he stumbled and fell flat. His Lord now plays second string; he’s compromised his faith for the team and his team mates.
My brethren, there’s no “in between” when it comes to Jesus Christ, we either follow Him and love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind or we are only pretending. I can promise you this, God knows our hearts. He knows if we are only pretending in our profession of faith in Jesus Christ. “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1 Peter 4:18.
Giving God the glory in a public setting is not offensive to God or to those who love Him. The offense is to those who hate God. Jesus said “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38. Determining to keep Jesus in a secluded arena and away from public scrutiny is shameful. This act proves to God that we are ashamed of Him, therefore we keep Him hidden.
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, this should not be so. This is the reason that the true Church today is diminishing. Where is our faithfulness and our boldness to publically stand and praise our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ? If we keep God to ourselves Satan wins. The lost, “those who are perishing”, need to know that there are still people around who belong to that strange group known as “Born Again Christians”. Those Jesus freaks of the sixty’s were continually publicly displaying their faith in Christ. They’re now in their sixties, where did they go?
My question is this: What right do we have to claim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives if we refuse to stand up for Him? It’s pure arrogance to proclaim we are covered by the blood of Christ and then cower at the first sign of persecution from the secular world. “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.” Psalm 25:2.
We are living in the last days of planet earth, and as such, we can plainly see that the Church is faltering as it is confronted with a barrage of attacks from those who belong to Satan. It will become more and more difficult to remain faithful to Christ in the face of what seems to be overwhelming adversity. Cry out for Jesus in private and in public. Give no quarter to those who hate you and despitefully use you. Stand firm on your faith. Why? Because Jesus is faithfully standing with you. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering ; for he is faithful that promised” Hebrews 10:23.
Satan wins many of the rounds when it comes to Christians putting the secular world before Christ. God’s power is superseded by fear when His children fail to stand and publicly glorify Him. That young man relented and allowed the secular world to dictate to him when and where he can glorify God. Penalty after penalty, that young man should have continued praising God on the field of play as well as off. Even if he was ejected from the team, that young Christian football player would have won the biggest game of his life had he only stood firm on his faith.
None of us should ever have to stand before the Creator of the universe and explain our refusal to stand up for Him. If we refuse to stand firm on our faith, without question, we are either afraid of some negative consequence or we are ashamed of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If its shame we feel then the question must be asked. Why? Why be ashamed of the one who gave us life? Why be ashamed of the one who paid the price for our freedom? How can we be ashamed of the one who died on an old wooden cross in our stead?
On the other hand if its fear you feel, then I would say heed God’s word. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.
I remember a young teenage girl while staring down the barrel of a gun was asked by the boy holding the gun if she was a Christian. Instead of denying her Savior and Lord, she said yes and was instantly united with Jesus in Heaven. Do you think she has any regrets? Remember Columbine!
Professing a belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior is easy; living a life dedicated to Him (walking the Christian walk) is much more difficult. This is where so many falter. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1 Peter 2:9.
We diminish our Savior’s influence in this world and in our lives when we hide Him away from the public because of a fear of being ridiculed. Jesus never backed down or ran away when people spoke evil of Him. Where are the faithful? If His own children won’t stand against this evil world while giving God the glory for every aspect of their lives, who will?
Whether we are playing a sport for fun, or at our jobs, even in the grocery store, our faith in Christ should be overwhelmingly apparent. The other day a contractor came to my house, and in very cold weather he wore no coat, only his yellow t-shirt with writing in huge bold black letters proclaiming the message “I’m a Christian contractor”. After he finished measuring for a handicap ramp I’m attempting to get installed, I thanked him for his boldness in wearing that shirt. When we shook hands we called each other brother and both of us came away from that short meeting fully aware of the others faith in Christ. He didn’t know me from Adam but He was not ashamed of His Lord, nor was he concerned about any fallout from possible persecution.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1. Condemnation is of the devil and he will continually bombard us with as much strife as he can, especially when we won’t follow the word of God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.
When we make the decision to follow Jesus Christ unabashedly, that decision comes with great responsibility. Condemnation being what it is the question becomes crucial to our faith. Will we stand up for Christ or recoil with fear and shame in the face of opposition?
We are to proclaim the message of the cross without fear of persecution. Nothing can touch our souls, they now belong to God. You want protection from the persecution? Claim the blood that was shed for your sins on a cross on a mountaintop in Judea 2,000 years ago. As Jesus Christ looked into the future and saw all of your sins and mine, do you think he was ashamed of us? I can honestly say the spikes that had been driven into His body had nothing to do with holding Jesus on that cross. Nothing but His love for you and me held Him there.
If you sometimes feel like you’re only going through the motions and you aren’t actually walking the walk of a born again believer in Christ, that can change. Simply put Jesus Christ back in His rightful place as the Lord of your life, which means He is not only on your team again, but He is the whole first string. Now, make that change permanent.
God bless you all,
All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed