Friday, February 8, 2013

Gridiron Gall = God's Glory?

Ray Lewis, the star linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens was interviewed by his former teammate Shannon Sharpe hours prior to Super Bowl 47. Football was not discussed but God's glory was.

Lewis was asked what he would say to the families of the two men killed in Atlanta after the Super Bowl in 2000. Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice after that incident. The families have spoken out in the last month including a story in USA Today about Lewis being celebrated for what he has accomplished in the NFL. "It’s simple," Lewis said, "God has never made a mistake. That’s just who He is, you see...To the family, if you knew, if you really knew the way God works, he don’t use people who commits anything like that for His glory. No way. It’s the total opposite."

What Lewis is implying is that God would not have allowed him to reach such an unprecedented level of success in the NFL if he was culpable in any way for the murders. Incidentally, most football experts consider Lewis to be one of the best middle linebackers to ever play the game.

But Lewis takes this concept of God's favor one step further by suggesting that his football career has brought glory to God. This fact, in Lewis' mind, vindicates him from that ugly night in Atlanta because, after all, God would not use murderers for His glory even though one third of the Bible is written by murderers. Moses, author of the first five books of the Bible killed an Egyptian slave-master and buried his body in the sand (Exodus 2:12); King David, author of more than half of the Psalms had Uriah murdered, Bathsheba's husband with whom he had an adulterous affair (2 Samuel 11:15); and the Apostle Paul, author of 13 New Testement letters persecuted and killed Christians before his dramatic conversion on the Damascus road (Galatians 1:13).

What Lewis fails to grasp is that if people are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because they believe God will help them win football games. It's because Jesus Himself is appealing, and what He says rings true. It's because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It's not because we want more of the same.

What Christianity really needs is for its members to unflinchingly obey the commands of Jesus Christ and exhibit the abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John chapter 10. Shortly before his death, the Marxist leader Lenin said, “Give me ten men like Francis of Assisi and I will rule the world.” It is the power of the life transformed by Jesus Christ that makes the world sit up and take notice not pregame dances and multimillion dollar contracts.

And to be honest, if the gospel was truly proclaimed many of the folks that claim to be Christian would shrink fast. America has moved so far away from preaching the cross that it is not surprising that our professional athletes who claim the name of Christ do so because they want Him to help them win. English Christian evangelist and author Leonard Ravenhill once said, "Christianity is not measured in success but in sacrifice." Truly a lost concept in today's world.

We need to come to the place where our lives mirror what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “that I may know Him [Jesus] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” This is our charter as believers. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to be ready to obey Christ as unconditionally as the first disciples. That is our calling, not Super Bowl rings.
“God is able to take your life, with all of the heartache, all of the pain, all of the regret, all of the missed opportunities, and use you for His glory.” - Charles R. Swindoll, Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication

No comments: