Sports Medicine

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. (1 Corinthians 15:1–4 NLT)

You can well imagine, even if sports medicine or orthopaedics is not your field, that orthopaedic surgeons are quite varied in their opinions about how to reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). When the main stabilizing ligament in the knee is ruptured—particularly in someone whose livelihood relies on his or her active body—something must be done to re-establish the knee joint’s integrity.

I have attended conferences where several orthopaedists—all intelligent, talented, and experienced—presented vastly different methods of reconstructing the ACL. I’ve read many medical journals where the debate is played out in print, too. Patellar tendon, gracilis tendon, semitendinosus tendon, single-bundle, double-bundle, autograft, allograft, open procedure, arthroscopic procedure. On and on the discussion goes.

But, after the lectures are through, those surgeons shake hands, say goodbye, and depart for home where all of them return to their work of ensuring that athletes and other patients get the best care possible. How is this scenario possible? Because each and every orthopaedic surgeon agrees on the essentials of their craft. The femur, the tibia, the patella, the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, the quadriceps and hamstring muscles…these fundamentals are what allows the surgeons to function effectively in healthcare in spite of the differences in their practices.

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul listed the three essentials of the Christian faith that we must believe: [1] Christ died for our sins. [2] Christ was buried. [3] Christ was raised from the dead. Paul also notes the authority for these: “just as the Scriptures said.” The list is helpful mostly for what is notably absent from it: things like music style, size of the church building, location, weekly attendance, clothing, baptism method, personal appearance, type of glass in the sanctuary windows, and number of sinks in the men’s washroom. That’s right, you won’t find any of the stuff that Jesus didn’t care very much about.

I know of a vibrant, growing, ministering church that meets in a seaside bar on Sunday mornings. Some Christians would be horrified that “bar” and “church” appear in the same sentence, much less in the same building. But, overlooking a beach in one of America’s vacation destinations, this community of believers meets people that are broken and looking for answers. Packed to overflowing weekly, the attendees hear the essentials of the faith: Christ died for their sins, Christ was buried, and Christ was raised from the dead…just as the Scriptures said. Once God opens their hearts to this message, down to the beach they march to be baptized. Then they’re discipled. Wow.

One of the blessings of my life, as my balance has tipped toward grace and away from the confines of my self-imposed faith box, is to see the incredible variety of people around the world who love and follow Jesus. I need to continue to remember the essentials of the faith and acknowledge that God is able to do remarkable work through people who do things much differently than I do. Maybe you and I can get far enough out of our boxes that we have a better view of God’s handiwork.

- Jeff Russell

E-KardíaGram: Sports Performance Edition is produced by The Kardía Foundation in association with Athletes in Action Sports Performance © 2018 The Kardía Foundation

We connect the Christian faith and healthcare, equipping Christian healthcare workers to integrate their faith and practice.

Contact: This electronic publication may be forwarded in its original format with proper credit given. Written by Jeffrey A. Russell, PhD, ATC

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