D. G. Hart is an elder in the denomination of our church (the Orthodox Presbyterian Church—I know you’ve never heard of it). He is also somewhat of a historian for the denomination and is often published in the denomination’s periodicals. I tend to find myself in loving disagreement with him. Here is the latest:
Mr. Hart wrote a short piece here seeking to explain how a person’s faith need not go “all the way down”. Briefly stated, being a Christian doesn’t affect “everything a person does”. He doesn’t believe being a Christian is “so basic to a person’s identity”. He suggests that we live in “many circles simultaneously” and that there is a “mix of different responsibilities and loyalties”. He posits that this mix is “basic to being human as opposed to living up to some sort of super-spiritual ideal of a life dedicated and consecrated to Christ 24/7”.
Leaving for now the obvious “two masters” hitch lurking in the shadows of this discussion, Hart gives the example of how he is, for the most part, like any other fan at the Phillies game. When he goes to a Phillies game he is not “all that different from any other Phillies rooter”. But I’m willing to wager that Hart is less like the other fans than he might initially realize.
You see, I too am a fan. I have been fortunate enough to have had (just a couple of times) seats on the floor of the Lakers, where I can hear the dialogue and dodge the slinging sweat. I also had the opportunity (as an almost pretty good athlete) to compete with Wilt, Magic (switching sports here) Karch and Rosenthal (best volleyball player in the world right now).
This up-close-and-personal interaction with those who are the best on the globe in their game did more than just grant me humility (although it did quite a bit of that). Observing their excellence brought my mind to a place quite different, I would think, to the guy sitting next to me (who I am quite sure wasn’t a Christian), and I’ll bet it brought Hart’s mind there as well.
As a Christian I marveled at the excellence of God’s creative genius. I am not suggesting that I lived up to a super-spiritual ideal of a life dedicated and consecrated to Christ 24/7, but I knew, even if they didn’t (and by “they” I mean the other fans and athletes on the court) that the athletic excellence, the mental toughness, sports IQ and the very excitement and drama of the entire event, was a derived gift from having been made in the image and likeness of God. The whole thing is part of God’s magnificence!
I would have loved to have gone to a Jubal concert “the father of” all musicians, or watch Tubalcain skillfully forge instruments (Genesis 4). And how much better than Duck Dynasty would it be to watch Nimrod, the first mighty man and “hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10)? Should not a Christian glory in the Lord at the excellence of God’s beauty in all things? Do I have to become like the other fans who have no idea where this all comes from?
But someone might object that skilled athletes have no intentions of glorifying God with their talents! Perhaps—perhaps not. But does that matter? Could I not be struck with awe by watching the king of Assyria—a king with no regard for God as his master or maker—as he pummeled a “godless nation” being the unwitting “rod of God’s anger”. Does that not tell me something about God? If I sat on the side of a mountain and watched those events as a believer, would that not be significantly different than the Amalekite sitting next to me?
Should we not, as Christians, be more than secular spectators of mundane events? Yes, the difference may be one less beer than our unbelieving neighbor or a more temperate disposition toward a bad call or missed shot. But it’s more than that. Should we not see, in the talents, passions, beauty and powers in the events of life, the hand of God’s brilliance?