Scottie Scheffler won the Players Championship this month, becoming the new world No. 1 golf professional. After his Masters win last year, he explained that winning at golf is not his ultimate purpose. “The reason why I play golf is I’m trying to glorify God and all that He’s done in my life. Having the God of the universe on your side just makes things a lot easier.” His wife Meredith keeps him grounded. “If you never win another golf tournament again,” she told him, “I’m still going to love you, you’re still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you, and nothing changes.”
In other news, Derek Carr signed on as the franchise quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. At his press conference he said, “I have a very strong faith in God. He is the reason I play football.” Anticipating some pushback he added, “I’m not gonna sit up here and throw Bibles at everybody, but I do have faith and I do believe. That’s how we raise our children, and that’s the basis of our marriage. I love my wife because of the way that I am loved and how I learned that love.”
Turns out, athletes can be rather good theologians! I’m proud of these Christian young men for using their platforms to glorify God. The foundation of their comments is the reality of a Creator God. Philosophers explain that since everything that begins to exist has a cause, the universe must have been caused by a non-material being who always existed. Theologians agree. “In the beginning, God created…” (Gen. 1:1).
Embedded in the athletes’ comments is the truth that God is personal and relevant to us in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is love, and His love compels us to love one another. Even more poignant, God is FOR us (“on your side”). That’s grace. Because Christ died for us, “We shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:9).
These athletes’ personal faith informs their public identities and private family lives. They may not “throw Bibles,” but if these young men weren’t motivated to winsomely represent Christ, they wouldn’t have spoken about faith. That does invite increased scrutiny. They know scoffers would enjoy seeing them fall into the hypocrisy of moral failure. The scoffers do well to learn the repentant life is far more likely than a perfect one.
“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).