Friday, January 7, 2011

Misplaced Priorities

I was watching HBO’s “Real Sports” television program last night and Bryant Gumbel and his panel of reporters were recapping the biggest sports stories of 2010. There was one story in particular that caught my attention and it was about Lane Kiffin, the former football coach of the University of Tennessee who abruptly quit his job in January in order to coach the USC Trojans. The story garnered national attention because his departure upset many students and fans of the University of Tennessee. As a result, hundreds of students rioted on campus causing the Knoxville police and fire department to be summoned after students blocked the exit from the Neyland Thompson Sports Center and started several small fires.

While I could spend the next several paragraphs detailing the less than admirable actions of Kiffin who has quite a history of poor behavior, I wanted to talk about the powerful reaction of the students instead. This is a college football program and while Kiffin’s decision to leave and coach another school would understandably cause ill feelings, the actions of the students speaks of a generation of young people who have their priorities sorely misplaced.

One of the panel members on the show said he was amazed the students rioted in such a manner over Kiffin’s departure, and yet there was not so much as even a small demonstration when the US went to war. It used to be that the younger generations were passionate about the things that affected their country and their future. This is sadly no longer the case as apparently who is coaching the football team trumps all else.

America at heart is a sports crazed nation and has been for a long time, but with the emergence of lucrative contracts, million dollar endorsements, and Internet exposure, not to mention Sports Center running 24x7, the fixation is at a fever pitch. As a result, priorities shift and values are recalculated in the wrong direction, leaving us with college kids rioting over the departure of a football coach.

Of course, the Lord warned us that His return would be near during an age of great apostasy and general lawlessness (2 Thessalonians chapter 2) and it would certainly appear that we are in that time today. America as a nation began to step away from God in the 1960’s and has continued to move further away as each generation passes. Given this, it should be of no surprise that sports teams are now more important to Americans than the state of the nation, foreign policy, and moral issues.

No one sees America’s political and economic decay tied to its moral decay and yet God says the two are inextricably linked. You can’t serve God and mammon at the same time. When a nation promotes hedonism, greed, and self-rights above the good of society, the results are disastrous.

As Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker and historian once said, "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." Tocqueville lived during the 1800’s and he made it his personal mission to figure out why America had risen to such prominence during the 19th century. In his quest, he had researched American’s government, schools, and homes but did not find America’s greatness there. It was only when he went to America’s churches that he understood the root of her greatness and made his famous quote.

I am still hopeful as God continues to delay his judgment that we can turn back and save our nation. This will become a reality only if we as His people put into action 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

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