Friday, March 25, 2011

The Heart of the Issue

The NFL has been in the midst of a labor dispute for months now. Just a couple of weeks ago, the owners locked out the players and the players union decertified in an effort to get a judge to overrule the lockout next month. The media has been covering both sides of this debate ad nauseam since the football season ended in early February. What I wanted to focus on though is the larger implications of this dispute from a Biblical perspective.

As I read the quotes from the owners and the players, I keep seeing the same phrase repeatedly over and over again, “This is a business.” This phrase usually comes on the heels of an owner or player asserting their case and then trying to apologize for sounding like a kid in a candy store by quicklly declaring, “this is just part of the business” as if that magic phrase makes their "me first" diatribe acceptable. What they are really saying is, “I want what is mine.” And this really is the heart of the issue as the heart of the matter is always the heart.

Jesus said all the issues of life spring up from the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 tell us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” The NFL labor situation is really just a microcosm of society. That is why people are always so quick to want to take sides. You have some people who look at the owners as filthy billionaires who are trying to cheat the players out of their money and then you have the other group of people who say the players should just keep quiet and be thankful that they make millions of dollars to play football.

God has something much different to say on the subject. He tells us to not put our trust in riches of this world for “riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:5).

For many years I worked in corporate America and was shocked and often saddened to see the type of deceit and cruel behavior that took place as companies scrambled to get their piece of the pie. What they failed to understand then and now is that the pie is not reality. The pie will be gone one day as we all stand before God and give an account for our lives. Only one thing will matter on that day, did we put our faith and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. For those of us that have already trusted the Lord, the Bible tells us that our works will be tried by fire and we will be rewarded or lose reward accordingly (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

I have also found in my own life that the riches of this world really do not bring the happiness and contentment that people expect. Just listen to some of the wealthiest people of their day:

- "The care of $200 million is enough to kill everyone. There is no pleasure in it." - W.H. Vanderbilt

- "I am the most miserable man on earth." - John Jacob Astor

- "I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness." - John D. Rockefeller

- "Millionaries seldom smile." - Andrew Carnegie

- "I was happier doing a mechanic's job." - Henry Ford

When our Savior preached the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5 many thought He was insane. The selfless principles he outlined that pictured the kingdom of God were too difficult for many to comprehend. It is easy to see why upon hearing this sermon, His listeners were shocked. Jesus begins each point by naming a group of people normally thought to be unblessed or unblessable and pronounces them blessed because of the presence and availability of the abundant life in God's kingdom to everyone, everywhere, regardless of status, circumstances, or condition.

In other words, Jesus’ sermon was the antithesis of the culture 2,000 years ago. Not much has changed today. I recently read how the market has been flooded with New England Patriot championship rings from the early part of this decade when the team won three championships in four years. Apparently, the hard economic times has forced many players to sell their rings to pawn shops for ten percent of what the ring is actually worth.

Jesus is offering something much more valuable today than a championship ring or an executive promotion or a new house. He is offering Himself and within that offer comes the abundant life. For you see the abundant life that everyone is pursuing on Wall Street and within corporate America and on the sports field is a mirage. It offers nothing lasting, nothing of eternal value in this life or the next. The true abundant life exists within the life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is here at the cross of Calvary that you find what you have been looking for – unconditional love, forgiveness, and self-worth. It is Jesus Christ who is the key to all that fulfills and truly satisfies. If you do not know Him, I pray you come to know the Savior today, Romans 10:9-10.

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