Barry Bonds is on the verge of breaking one of the greatest records in baseball history—Hammerin' Hank Aaron's 755 career home runs. His would-be achievement may be tainted by alleged steroid abuse, but, for many fans, it's not tainted enough to discredit the accomplishment.

Bonds is hardly the only steroids user in the league, far from it. Despite new regulations against steroids in MLB, some speculate that a majority of players still juice. There's a reason this is known as baseball's steroids era. Because performance-enhancing drugs are such a defining element in today's game, many fans say that even if players are technically cheating by using, they still deserve recognition for their achievements.

As Christians, we must look deeper into why we involve ourselves in athletics. As I enter my third season of volleyball at Moody Bible Institute, I'm reminded of the reasons why I play—the motivations that pull me through on days I would rather walk off the court. Coming in at number one is a phrase we often yell in the huddle before a match, "Volleyball, for HIM!"

Needless to say, such a chant would be unlikely in the halls of most public high schools. Nor does it echo in the locker rooms of big-time college or professional sports teams. Most athletes play for the win—and for their own glory.

In Colossians, Paul writes, "Whatever you say, or whatever you do, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. Give thanks to God the Father through Jesus." You don't have to be a Greek scholar to know that the word everything is all-encompassing. Do everything for God's glory, Paul says, including athletic involvement.

Christians' standards of acceptable conduct, both for athletes and for fans, should be different than others'. Whether in the game or on the sideline, we ought to see sports as a celebration of God's gifts of activity and physical ability. Not only that, our actions and attitudes should reflect integrity, because that is the standard that we are held to—God-glorifying behavior.

Illegal steroid use is cheating, and it damages the body God has given us. But trash talking, poor sportsmanship, and unkind heckling from the stands lack integrity, too. Christians should stand against all dishonoring behaviors—on the field, on the court, and in the stands—because we participate in sports for his glory, not ours.

Liz Lawson is news intern at Christianity Today.

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"Play Ball" is an occasional department covering sports. In March 2006, Mark Galli wrote, "Steroids 'R' Us | It's not just Barry Bonds's heart that is desperately wicked."

Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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