Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday's Weekly Rap-Up - June 28, 2013

Not Guilty - Derek Minor (Formerly known as PRo)

In the world of athletics there has been quite a bit happening this past week or so. The Miami Heat won the NBA Championship, there were historic upsets at Wimbledon, the Chicago Blackhawks brought home the Stanley Cup to the Windy City, and the NBA Draft was once again, fairly unpredictable, though not very exciting. If this past week has revealed anything, it's that we love athletics and athletes.

One thing that seems to be common among many fans is our ability to identify or gravitate to a particular athlete. Athletes at professional levels obviously exude a particular amount of personality and passion, which draws us in. Athletes share themselves with us through social media, commercials, the press, or television appearances. We get enough information to think that we know them. I don't think they do this to fool us, but we as fans have become somewhat too eager to create a connection with them that doesn't exist. We know far less about these athletes than we give ourselves credit for.

Sure, I can name what the latest model was released was for Kobe, LeBron, Durant or Jordan. We might even know where they go for dinner, or what car they drive. Thanks to TMZ or Twitter I can find out what a particular athlete is eating or doing thousands of miles away within seconds. But we by no means actually know them. Do we ever ask these questions? What type of husband are they? What kind of father are they? Do they have a relationship with their parents? How responsible are they with their money? What motivates them? What challenges them? What brings them the most joy? Who is the most influential person in their lives? What would they want to do if they weren't an athlete? Some of these things we can find out online and on the back of trading cards, but we really have no clue about our athletic heroes.

Case in point, the story of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. This week Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder, and is now being connected to another murder of two men in 2012. Hernandez was an All-Pro player, won a national championship at Florida, and was making historic money for a tight end. But, his career ended abruptly this past week, as the Patriots released Hernandez.

(ESPN has a brief summary of the events surrounding Aaron Hernandez here.)

In an article by Mike Reiss at, Reiss says that Hernandez had all of Boston fooled. (This was a refreshing, short article). I'm glad that someone in the sports media is taking note. I couldn't agree more with Reiss, and I am struggling to see why anyone is surprised. If we are honest, it's an amazing grace that we don't all follow through on some of the thoughts that go through our minds. We can all admit that we are capable of much more evil than we allow ourselves to think. We're much worse than we allow people to see.

There is an old quote from Charles Spurgeon that goes like this:
“Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.” 
Charles Spurgeon
Spurgeon's quote came to mind as our neighborhood parish was discussing Paul's letter to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 2. Paul reminds the Ephesians of where they came from, and what their old position was. Paul reminds us that we were once dead in our trespasses and sins, following the course of the world, and power of the air, and were children of wrath. Basically, what Paul is saying is that "Y'all we some bad dudes." But, right after that, Paul reminds the Ephesians (and us!) that God, in his mercy and love, changed their hearts and made them alive in Christ. While we're guilty of continuing to run from Christ and what he did for us, Christ's payment for sin fully satisfied God's righteous requirement, freeing us from guilt and our own personal attempts to "clean ourselves up."

Aaron, there's more than enough room at the cross for another murderer. If we don't think there is, we only need be reminded of Paul, and miss out on the immeasurable grace that has been extended to us. Who would we be kidding? The court of law may deem us guilty, but there is room for repentance and confession to cleanse us from eternal separation from God, giving us the verdict of "Not Guilty".