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Q. Our church has a basketball team. We play in a local competition with some of the other Christ churches in the area. I have been playing on the team but have become increasingly concerned about the bad spirit and bad language that takes place during these activities. How can we play these games in the Spirit of Christ?

A. You may be shocked by my response. I do not believe that there is any way that we can play these games in the Spirit of Christ. Sports were never ordained of God. Gods plan for physical recreation involved non--competitive recreational exercise, work, and other cooperative activities. In the Garden of Eden man was given a garden to tend for exercise and other benefits. Every Jewish child, no matter what his future, learned a trade. For example, Jesus learned the trade of a carpenter and Paul that of a tentmaker. It was the pagans that introduced sports. It came out of a slave mentality. Believing that work was degrading, it was given to the slaves. The free men got their exercise in games. The games all had something to do with war and the stimulation of war. So today, the games of the modem world overwhelmingly have their origin in war, whether they be team battles or individual contests. The English playwright Milton once said, "'The wars of England were not only won on the playing fields of Eton and Harrow, [exclusive private high schools] they were also started there.

Natural games for children and youth are simulation of adult work patterns.

Thus, a child can be just as happy being given a toy lawn mower or a set of tools as being given a baseball bat or a tennis racket. The spirit of sports is one of competition. The success of one is at the expense of another's failure.

The kingdom of God is altogether different from that. It is built on cooperation, and the success of one encourages the success of another.