Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly Wednesday blog which examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of spirituality and sport.
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “Matthew 6:6
In Part 1 of this blog last week, we looked at a fascinating development in the USA that impacted on the worlds of sport, law and faith. The case, going under the name Joseph Kennedy v Bremerton School District (2019) No. 18-12, has attracted widespread interest from clergy, educators, politicians and sports personalities.
As a person of faith myself, I am intrigued by the various perspectives that have been offered in this controversial matter. Yet, I cannot help but reflect on whether one of Jesus’ insightful teachings could have been helpful in this case, if adhered to faithfully.
In the Gospel passage cited above, Jesus recommended, among other things, the private practice of spiritual disciplines such as fasting, almsgiving and prayer. The goal was to ensure that those who wished to express their religious commitment were not seeking the attention of men.
Let me be clear. I am not imputing any improper motives in relation to Kennedy’s prayers. Discerning human motivation is divine territory. However, there is wisdom in Jesus’ admonition to have the so-called “audience of One”, namely God. If our desire is to do what is right, even when only God can see it, then we remove the temptation to try to impress others.
I look forward to the final decision in Kennedy v Bremerton District School. I endorse responsible free speech and the unhindered practice of one’s faith, once it is done with humility, gentleness and respect for others’ divergent views. Nevertheless, I am quite persuaded by Jesus’ understanding of the human heart and his call to “let your light shine” (Matthew 5:16) while also avoiding the trap of trying to look good in man’s eyes.
Especially for those who belong to a community of faith, pray for discernment as you seek to set an example for others while maintaining purity of heart and conscience.
If you were inspired by this blog, please consider sharing it with one other person today. To learn more about these and other related themes that promote the cultivation of an integrated inner self, read UNBEATABLE! which is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book.