What is the greatest commandment? To love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. And the second? Love your neighbour as yourself. Now, how do those two great commandments stack up next to: I preferred basketball to meeting with God’s people to worship him and I loved it more than I loved them so I didn’t meet with them and thus couldn’t love them.
I used to play basketball. I know, hard to believe, given both my Napoleonic stature and my John Goodman-esque physique. But I did. I mean, I wasn’t always this fat and if Mugsy Bogues could make it to the NBA at just 5’3″ then there was no physical reason I couldn’t. And I wasn’t bad either.
Back then, most the stuff I was doing happened on a Saturday. But then the dreaded day came when everything switched to Sunday. Training on a Saturday morning, games on a Sunday. And with that switch came the inevitable discussion with my parents that I knew was coming.
As sabbatarians go, my parents were of the soft variety. I didn’t grow up in a no toys, no games, no nothing but the Bible, church and Christian biographies on Sunday type home. My Dad’s view took a pretty straightforward view of the sabbath. Take a rest from your usual work (which, at the time, meant no homework on Sunday – so one was hardly complaining) and don’t buy stuff. Everything else was pretty much fair game.
When it came to discussing basketball, then, Sunday was not the issue per se. My job wasn’t basketball, so no issue of working, and it didn’t involve buying anything, so no issue there either. The problem came in the timing. In our (fairly brief) discussion, my Dad was clear that if there was some way for me to play basketball before or after church, and still get to both morning and evening services, then there wouldn’t be a problem.