“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
“8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.”
– John 1:1-5, 8–10
Inside the context of athletics, one of the hardest struggles for athletes is to not make competition about themselves. When you're the only person on the weightlifting platform or you're the only person on the wrestling mat or you make the big tackle or you cross the finish line first, all eyes are on you. It's hard not to make that moment (whether it's success or failure) revolve around who you are. It's hard to work against the philosophy that you are the content and the make up of your own success. One of the hardest struggles Christian athletes face is how to show the world their success comes by God's grace and through His work.
In the prologue to the Gospel of John, we read this reality very clearly. Simply stated, the author of the Gospel reminds its readers over and over again that before anything existed, in a time when there was only nothingness, the Godhead existed. The first cause of all that exists is the Godhead. To make it more simple, nothing that is in existence can point to any other creator then God Himself. The metaphor that John uses is to call Jesus the true light. The light that brings life to all man. That's physical life and spiritual life. In fact, if you look back on God's very first creation it was light! Christ is the light that has existed forever and is the content of our success.
It's like the moon. If you take a second to look at the moon on a full moon night you can't help but notice it's brightness. Yet the reality of the moon is that it's not a source for light at all. It merely reflects the heat and the light of the sun but has no light or heat itself. The same truth corresponds to our own lives.God is the true source of light in our lives. The true source of success and talent and glory. We can't create that nor can we be the source for those things. Just like the moon can't be the source for light or heat we cannot consider ourselves a source for glory success or our own accomplishments.God operates as the content and source of these things.
In Matthew 5:16 Jesus commands us to shine that light, His light, to the world but for a specific purpose. That purpose is that the world might glorify the Father in heaven. In success or in failure, our growth and accomplishment are not ours to take credit for and we are certainly not the source of those things.
One of my favorite artists, Tedashii, ends his song “Reverse” with this line, “So I don't shine, I reveal. Call it Blacklight.” This is the premise of any glory or credit that athletics bestows upon us. It's not ours to revel in and we are not the source for those things. That light that shines on us on our athletic fields or on our platforms or in our arenas is the light of Christ meant to bring Him glory. In the same way that the moon can't take credit for its light on a full moon night, we can't take credit for the accomplishments and successes we find in our own lives. These gifts are God granted and God-given and ultimately should be God glorifying.