He’s only played a few games since being dumped by the Wallabies for paraphrasing a passage from the Bible but, according to Fox Sports, Israel Folau is already being feted as the top contender to take out Super League’s Man of Steel. Lee Radford, the coach for Hull, said recently:
He’s an absolute talent, he could be Man of Steel.
He’s multi-talented, at league, union, AFL, you can tell he’s played AFL by how he jumps, he jumps like Michael Jordan.
While following Christ doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in every endeavour in life, Folau’s example is strikingly similar to that Eric Liddell, whose story is recorded in the classic movie Chariots of Fire. Both men refused to compromise their biblical convictions when the world around them was pressuring them to compromise and cave in. The Lord has honoured both men for their courage and faith.
In the penultimate scene in the movie, in preparing to run at the Olympic Games of 1924 in Paris, Liddell is approached by an American athlete, Jackson Scholz, who hands him a slip of paper with a verse from 1 Samuel 2:30, which read: “He who honours me I will honour.” It was a timely word since Liddell was competing over 400 metres rather than over 100 metres. For 100 metres, Liddell would hold the world record for thirty-five-years, but because the heats were on the Lord’s Day, Liddell considered that he could not violate his conscience.
But not only did Liddell win the 400 metres race, he also broke the Olympic Record – a truly staggering achievement for an event that he hadn’t really trained for.
However, the passage from 1 Samuel 2:30 is worth quoting in full. The second half of the verse reads: “Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained.” This is where both men—Liddell and Folau—feared God more than man. Whether or not Folau continues to win sporting accolades doesn’t really matter for the approval that he is seeking is from above (see Matthew 25:23; Galatians 1:10). His theology has been questioned – and may well be questionable – but in his character, he is a wonderful example of what it means to be faithful in a culture that is increasingly hostile to the message of Christ.