Book Review: The Good Sporting Life, Stephen Liggins (Matthias Media, 2020)

Sport is a wonderful, good gift from God.

But sport has been horribly corrupted by human sin.

Yet sport can be played for God’s glory.

Stephen Liggins opens The Good Sporting Life with a chapter exploring these three basic premises. Once he has established these truths, he spends the rest of the book unpacking what that looks like. Liggins, himself an excellent sportsman who played at a high level in his youth, has put together an accessible, engaging read. Full of examples from the careers of elite athletes from across the globe, Liggins’ book will happily catch the attention of any sports-mad reader such as this reviewer. Yet his illustrations are married to helpful and faithful Bible teaching, and so this book does much more than simply entertain.

Sport can be a huge idol for many, it can be a stumbling block in our Christian lives. But it can also be a huge blessing and a great joy. Liggins seeks to show the believer, through this book, that we can engage with sport for God’s glory, and for our good.

Part way through his book, Liggins brings the reader to the example of Darren Smith. Smith was a basketball player in the Australian National Basketball League between 1994-2004. Throughout the early years of his career Smith thought that (145) “I was a Christian and a basketballer and I felt they were two different spheres.” Yet after being invited to join in with some meetings and games organised by the US organisation, Athletes in Action, Smith realised that (146) “God is in everything – not just outside of basketball, but including basketball.” Our God is the God over sport. We do not exist as Christians and sportspeople, but when we play our sports, we are Christian sportspeople.

So this book seeks to encourage us in that world. Whether we play, coach, parent or merely watch, sport can play a huge part in our lives. This book seeks to equip the believer to stand firm against the temptations of the sporting world, whilst seeking to glorify God through our sport.

As Liggins says in chapter 6 – sport can be a minefield. But it is also a missionfield. God has put us in our sporting clubs and contexts for His glory. There are trials and temptations, but there are also wonderful opportunities. Liggins’ book is a welcome additions to a short but necessary list of publications aimed at encouraging Christian sportspeople to live out their faith in their sport.

I found this book really helpful, and would gladly recommend it. I loved Liggins’ second chapter, detailing a history of sport and the church, and would say that alone is worth the price of the book! But beyond that personal highlight, Liggins brings decades of sporting and Christian maturity to a book that is packed full of biblical wisdom and practical advice. I’d thoroughly recommend it as a great read if you are involved in the world of sport, however that might look for you.

This review is once again, a longer version of a commendation I provided for Free Church Books.

I’ve also been involved, for many years, with an organisation called Christians in Sport. If you are a Christians sportsperson in the UK, I’d definitely recommend checking out their website and resources through the hyperlink below.

Christians in Sport

The Good Sporting Life by Stephen Liggins

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