By: Lane Palmer at Dare 2 Share
Well sports fans, the BIG DAY approacheth. For the 47th time in American history, families and friends will gather round the BIG SCREEN to watch the BIG GAME.
What else is big? The price tag for a commercial, for sure. This year it runs 4 million big ones for a 30-second spot—which is over $133,000 per SECOND.
And yes, many of us will be bigger by the end due to mass consumption of pizza, wings, nachos and other assorted football game food. And as usual, the results of the Super Bowl will leave many people elated and the rest angry.
Yet perhaps the biggest storyline in all the hoopla is the sun setting on the career of one of the best players of all time. His name is Ray Lewis, a future hall-of-famer whose story might shake up your worldview a bit.
You see, Lewis’ reputation goes well beyond simply an amazing athlete, because there are many who attach the label “murderer” to #52 as well. In 2000, Lewis was accused and tried for murder, and although he was only convicted of obstruction of justice, he remains guilty in the eyes of many folks.
And then there is the rest of the story…
Since then, Lewis has been (and continues to be) an outspoken Christian who has a Bible tattoo and a Biblical message of God’s forgiveness.
And, just like the Super Bowl, many people are elated and the rest are angry.
Truth be told, I believe this is what happens whenever the amazing grace of God collides with the world stage. The scandal of total and complete forgiveness because of the blood of Jesus Christ is simply too much for many folks to process, so we react in self-righteous judgment and point our fingers.
But rather, we should be judging ourselves and turn our perspective inwards:
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend,‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye”(Matthew 7:1-6).
These profound and convicting words of Jesus are just as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago. It is human nature to compare our faults and judge those “below” us—right? But how often do we look up instead? We need to remember that standard for our judgments is not humanity—it is divinity—in other words, judge yourself by the standard of perfection, and you won’t judge anyone again. And when we do judge others, that standard is used on us.
Is Lewis’ life a model for Christian living? Definitely not. He’s aware of the many ways his lifestyle choices have fallen outside of God’s call to live a holy life. A recent New York Times article put it this way:
His standard piece of advice to them [those he mentors] is not to use his life and career as a model. Follow his advice, not his footprints.
“I tell them, Trust me, don’t ever take my path,” Lewis once told me. “Don’t ever do it the way I did it, because everyone won’t make it. You got to be willing to walk in a storm. That’s what I tell people all the time. If there’s something in your life that you know needs changing, make sure you change it before God’s got to change it. Because if God’s got to change it, you ain’t going to like it.” ¹
You believe Ray Lewis is a murderer? Guess what? So am I—and so are you if there has ever been hatred in your heart (Check out Matthew 5:21-22).
But like Lewis, I’ve been forgiven. I am innocent and stainless in the sight of God even though I deserved eternal punishment—and it is this amazing grace that fires me up to share the gospel.
But for many people, this kind of grace is difficult to accept, hard to believe and even harder to receive.
The kind of grace shown to Ray Lewis (and me) boldly proclaims that God does for others what we would never do for them. But God’s grace cannot help you until you are desperate enough to receive it. Perhaps that’s why some people think themselves too good to be saved. They have a blind spot to their own fallen condition, which is why God’s grace cannot help us until we are desperate enough to receive it.
Are you desperate enough to receive it? Or do you look at people like Ray Lewis and think that the free gift of salvation is only for the “big sinners”? If so, just remember that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, my friend.
I’m excited to see the game, but I am even more passionate about the forgiveness shown to me that I want to share with others as I live out THE Cause of Christ and seek to make disciples who make disciples. When I see Ray Lewis blowing up people on the field, I’m going to remember that every day I am called to tackle the lies of self-righteousness and the spiritually deadly belief that people can be good enough to save themselves.
If we all were as passionate about THE Cause as Ray Lewis is about football, how different would the world be?
¹ Rhoden, William C., New York Times, “A Sinner Holds Tight to Faith and a Second Chance,” January 11, 2013.