Fulfillment on the playing field

A Christian Science perspective: A spiritual response to the Monitor editorial ‘Protecting the purity of the Olympics.’

Earlier this year, a Monitor editorial commended the International Olympic Committee for its efforts to curb “the corrupting influence of sports betting worldwide,” noting that issues such as cheating and sports fixing “have hit several professional sports in recent years ... setting off alarms about whether criminal gambling syndicates might reach [those] who participate in the world’s most prestigious sport event” (“Protecting the purity of the Olympics,” CSMonitor.com). The editorial board concluded, “Talent and teamwork should remain the purpose of any sport.”

What can we do about influences that might tempt us away from acting in good faith, on the playing field or elsewhere? I’ve found this statement to be a helpful guide for thinking and acting: “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). Understanding God to be good, divine Love, we act “to the glory of God” when we endeavor to express Godlike qualities – such as honesty and principle – in all we do. This is where true victory lies.

On the other hand, “Success in sin,” writes the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, “is downright defeat” (“Message to The Mother Church for 1900,” p. 10). Elsewhere, she says: “The predisposing and exciting cause of all defeat and victory under the sun, rests on this scientific basis: that action, in obedience to God, spiritualizes man’s motives and methods, and crowns them with success; while disobedience to this divine Principle materializes human modes and consciousness, and defeats them” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896,” pp. 267–268).

Striving to “do all to the glory of God,” as a guide to acting rightly, brings the promise of genuine fulfillment – of wholeness, happiness, and harmony. This was a lesson Christ Jesus taught in his Sermon on the Mount; he said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

Because man’s true identity is spiritual, made in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27), true, lasting satisfaction has its source in Him, divine Spirit, not in material gains or selfish, ungodlike activity. Furthermore, it’s natural for everyone, as God’s own creation, to be drawn to His goodness, to cherish virtuousness. This understanding helps us resist temptations to cheat.

One time, I was a few points away from winning a very close, hard-fought tennis match. My opponent made a shot that just nicked the line, and I was suddenly tempted to call it “out” – even though it wasn’t. First, though, I considered the fact that honesty is inherent in all of us as God’s, divine Truth’s, likeness. I also realized that acting in a way contrary to my true, spiritual identity could not bring true satisfaction, even if I ended up winning the match – because I would know, and have to live with, what I had done.

I told my opponent her shot had been in-bounds, and as I did, a feeling of peace washed over me. In fact, it gave me a sense of total rejuvenation, which buoyed me throughout the third set we ended up playing. As excited as I was when I ultimately won, the deep sense of fulfillment resulting from this experience came from beyond the outcome of the match. The victory came from doing what was right in the face of temptation.

We can all strive to bring to the playing field – or wherever we are – the Godlike qualities of honesty and faithfulness, because they are inherent in us as God’s reflection. As we do, we’ll experience more and more what it means to truly “be filled” with lasting joy and fulfillment.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.