It may seem like an easy shot, but for a group of Christians who think of themselves as and talk about being Reformed, the blatant disregard of one of the most characteristic marks of Reformed devotion is breathtaking. The Co-Allies have done it again and failed to understand the importance of sanctifying the Lord’s Day.
Joe Carter posted about Bubba Watson’s victory at the Masters Tournament. What matters to Carter is Bubba’s witness, not whether the golfer conforms to God’s revealed will (though to the credit of some readers, a discussion of the Fourth Commandment did ensue):
Last month Watson’s Tweeted before his third round: The most important thing in my life? Answer after I golf 18 holes with @JustinRose99. #Godisgood
Later that day he posted on his account, “Most important things in my life- 1. God 2. Wife 3. Family 4. Helping others 5. Golf”
“Lecrae said it the best,” Watson said of the Christian rapper he listens to on his iPod. “He doesn’t want to be a celebrity. He doesn’t want to be a superstar. He just wants to be the middle man for you to see God through him.”
Of course, the Co-Allies do not neglect of the Sabbath or exhibit inconsistency alone. Evangelicalism is awash with Protestants who want public officials and school board superintendents to post the Decalogue in court and schools rooms, all the while failing to pay attention to the first table of the law and what it says about Sundays and worship.
But is it too much to ask followers of Jesus Christ to keep his day holy? Maybe it is thanks to the instruction from neo-Calvinists that all the days belong to Christ equally. I mean, if all the days now need to show Christ’s Lordship, then maybe I need a break from that week-long holiness on the day that previous generations of saints believed was reserved for holy duties. How do you keep the Lord’s Day holy when everything I do 24/7 is holy?
Still, some Christian athletes did try to honor the day. Eric Liddell, the Olympic caliber runner featured in Chariots of Fire, is one that comes to mind. Just the other night at Hillsdale we saw Chuck Chalberg (who does a pretty good Mencken, by the way) perform his one man show on Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who signed Jackie Robinson. Turns out that Rickey was reared a holiness-seeking Methodist who promised his mother that he would never play baseball on the Lord’s Day. And speaking of Dodgers, what about Sandy Koufax who would not pitch on the first day of Passover? Precedents do exist for devotion-based sacrifices.
Of course, the problem for athletes of the professional variety is that they would never become celebrities if they did not play sports on the Lord’s Day. Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow, and Bubba Watson, would not have careers if they reserved Sunday for rest and worship. And without celebrity, Lin, Tebow, and Watson would be useless to those inspiration-deprived believers who need their pastors and mentors to be popular and famous if they are going to believe that God is really in control and carrying out his plan of salvation.
As a cure for this affliction, I recommend Bible reading. It is hard to see in stories of Israel or the early church any kind of fame or power or celebrity. Celebrity is not something that characterizes exiles and pilgrims.