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Basketball and the Sabbath

Basketball and the Sabbath
Shouldn’t we be more flexible about which day to keep as the Sabbath?

Wade Duffus, a senior at Ocoee High School in Florida, didn’t mean to cause a disruption. The quiet, 6-foot-7 forward for the Ocoee High’s basketball team doesn’t like putting people into prickly situations.

If his team wins a semifinals game on Wednesday night, they advance to a Friday night championship game. The problem is that Duffus is a Sabbath keeper who honors the fourth commandment from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Actually it’s not a problem for Wade, who is content to keep the Sabbath no matter what happens.

His coach wants to move the potential game to Saturday night, but school personnel are resistant. The coach says, “The kids wouldn’t care at all.” He adds, “There’s no real bad guy here. There’s mainly a unique kid who puts religion above sports.”

Should an athlete, who has joined a sports team, be willing to occasionally set aside his religious beliefs for the good of the squad? After all, didn’t the apostle Paul write, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5)? Doesn’t this text mean that the day you choose for worship is a matter of preference?

A cursory reading of Romans 14:5 may sound like the “day” being spoken of here is the fourth commandment, but a more careful reading of the entire chapter reveals that Paul is addressing Jewish religious practices. Christians, during the time of Paul, had not abandoned the seventh day. Paul wasn’t speaking about the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment, but the laws of Moses.

Duffus isn’t the only “unique kid who puts religion above sports.” Other athletes have held to their convictions. Even professionals and Olympians have refused to compromise their commitment to honor the Sabbath. Sometimes it has cost them winning a game or medal.

Someday God’s people will be pressured to break the Sabbath at the cost of their very lives. But those who stand firm are not looking for an earthly medal. They remember Jesus words: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Listen to this interesting question about keeping the Sabbath in unique situations. Click here!