1 Corinthians 3: 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
If you are a Christian Athlete and you choose to make that known to others, be prepared to be watched. Some will watch intently to see if your conduct matches your words; some will eagerly watch and hope that you trip up; and others will even actively conspire to trip you up. Whatever your situation, you will be a light on a hill, either dimly glowing, or one that lights up the hill.
I love seeing Christian athletes who profess to be Christians and who live it out. One such person is Mike “Pinball” Clemons. Clemons played a season in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he is best known for his career in the Canadian Football League (CFL) where he played for the Toronto Argonauts from 1989 to 2000. During that time, he won 5 Grey Cup championships, he was the 1990 MVP, and in 1997 he accumulated 3,840 all-purpose yards.
More importantly, however, Clemons is a Christian light. Not only does his toothy smile light up a room, but his infectious joy. Clemons is a light as he helps the less fortunate with the Pinball Clemons Foundation (www.pinballfoundation.ca) which helps youth around the world by providing them with educational opportunities and resources. He is also a light because of his humility. Most superstars have a tough time when they retire and are no longer the focal point of attention. They are often especially challenged when their records are broken. In contrast to that, however, is how Clemons reacted, now in management with the Toronto Argonauts, when his single season all-purpose record was surpassed by Chad Owens in 2012. Here is what Chad Owen’s had to say about Clemons: “He’s been my biggest supporter from Day 1, and it just goes to show his character – here’s someone who’s on the verge of breaking his record and he’s the first guy there to congratulate him.”[i]
Mike Clemons doesn’t put on an act. His humility and acts of service are just part of his character. And that character is Jesus Christ living in him. In today’s scripture (1 Cor. 3:3), Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and is rebuking them because they are still worldly; Christ was not evident in their lives. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27). While we can so easily become polluted by the world as we partake in sports, Clemons has found a way to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. Like you and me, Clemons is not perfect, he is a sinner, yet he has chosen to walk humbly, as a repentant sinner.
How about you? What would Paul write to you? Would he be rebuking you and saying that “you are still worldly!”, or would he recognize that your life is being sanctified by the Holy Spirit living inside of you (2 Corinth. 3:18). Offer up yourself to God and ask that He do the work necessary to remove the world from your life so that you can be an effective witness for Him.