Summer 2024

Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Tuesday, January 7

“But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated Me without reason.'” — John 15:25

They Don’t Even Know Me

As a coach, the wife of a coach, the parent of two high school players and director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes in my state, I have the opportunity to watch athletes compete all across our region in a multitude of sports. Sporting events are never vacant of challenges for athletes. 

Recently, I sat in the stands of a small-town basketball game that took on the energy of the state championship game in the classic 1986 movie, “Hoosiers.” The crowd was loud, the players were competitive and the coaches were passionate. 

It took a turn early in the first half when a group of young spectators zoned in on one particular athlete from the opposing team and began to abuse him verbally. It escalated, as the mob mentality usually does, and the words used were certainly not allowed in “Hoosiers.”

My attention to the game faded away as I watched these high school spectators verbally go after one player. It changed the entire dynamic of that gym. It was heartbreaking to watch. But it was also impressive as I watched the player focus on the game, never once retaliating to the comments being thrown at him from the bleachers a few feet away.

I continued to watch the athlete after the final whistle and he was noticeably bothered by what had been said and done to him throughout four quarters of action. All the emotion that had been building through the game was teeming behind his eyes. He simply said, “They hate me and they don’t even know me.” He then walked out of the gym.

I drove home with thoughts chasing down my own emotions. His comment kept playing over and over in my head: “They hate me and they don’t even know me.” I then turned my thoughts to Jesus. There it was: John 15:25 — “They hated me without reason.”

There are so many that hate Jesus, and yet they don’t even know Him. The events at the game reflected our world and its heart toward God. There were those who did know the player and hated him anyway; they had no reason. There were those who were aware of him but didn’t really care one way or another. Then, there were those that knew him and it was so obvious they loved him.

Isn’t it the same with Jesus?

On a much greater scale than any basketball game could ever compare, Jesus exists to save and to love His creation. Those that know Him and have a personal relationship with Him, they love Him.

If we knew the Jesus behind the name, if we knew Him for His life-saving grace, if we knew the Jesus that died for us, we would love Him.

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” — John 3:16-17 

If you are a player that is enduring a hardship in your athletic career, look up. There is a Jesus who knows you, loves you and died for you. He wants you to know Him so well that you can’t help but know His love.

It will be a growing experience for that athlete to learn to deal with unwarranted hatred, but he is in good company with Jesus. Those that know Him, love Him. 

Amber Johns, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Area Director 

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