And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
While the doughboys were fighting in World War I, the folks back home were singing a popular song which asked, "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree'?" That tune acknowledged the fact that farm boys might not want to return to the farm after they'd seen the bright lights and experienced the fast life of Europe.
According to a report made by Steve McMullin of Acadia Divinity College, today's pastors are paraphrasing that song to read, "How ya gonna keep 'em in church after they've played sports on Sunday morning?"
It appears many preachers have concluded the Lord and His house rank a distant second for those young people who are involved in community sports which demand they practice and play on Sundays.
Those pastors may be right. In many places Sunday is no longer the "Lord's Day" and Wednesday afternoons and evenings are no longer kept free on community calendars, so people can be involved in their churches.
The big question is what can we do about it? There are a number of possible answers:
Number One: We can pretend things are "business as usual" and society isn't being secularized.
Number Two: We can let the young folks pursue their sports and then pick them up a few years later when they might be more receptive to matters spiritual.
Number Three: We can acknowledge the problem and adopt an "if you can't beat them, you can join them" philosophy. Those who embrace this plan of attack support sports and provide alternative worship times for the faithful.
Now this devotion doesn't presume it has the authority to tell parishes and pastors what they should do. On the other hand, we can offer this encouragement to families: remember the Lord made us to be complete people. He gave us a body, a mind, a soul. He sent His Son into this world to offer His life as the sacrifice that would save those bodies, minds and souls.
It is a great mistake when families concentrate their efforts in one or two areas and exclude the other. Athletic and mental pursuits are all fine and good, but they can become incredibly dangerous if they end up eliminating or ignoring our spiritual needs and devotion to the Savior who has redeemed us.
Jesus said it another way when He told us, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).
It's good advice.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for my body, mind and soul. May I always remember and be thankful for these great blessings You have bestowed. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries