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Andy and Melissa Beshore

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Who do you want to be like?

Recent headlines have paired Madonna with Alex Rodriguez in late-night romps that have ultimately allegedly ended the slugger’s marriage. I realize that this is just the latest example of how our heroes fall short and live lives that are less than model status. There are countless other examples of other sports heroes past and present who have had stellar careers, but less than stellar personal lives. In the beginning of this reflection, I would like to identify the athletes who have caused the offenses and provide examples.

Beginning with Rodriguez, he has recently been linked to Madonna in extra-marital affairs. Both Madonna and Rodriguez are married. Rodriguez’s wife, incidentally, is allegedly having an affair with Lenny Kravitz. You can read about this more at: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/05/arts/peepsat.php .

Here is my question. How many young kids have Yankees’ number 13 jerseys? How many have Alex Rodriguez posters on their wall? How many collect baseball cards and have stowed his away someplace safe because he is their favorite ball player? At what point do parents step up and say, “Son, based on how this guy lives his life, I am not sure he is one I want you to emulate.”

What about Kobe Bryant? How soon we forget that he raped (although acquitted) an employee in a Colorado hotel four years ago. It apparently was not pursued in trial because another man impregnated Bryant’s accuser before the trial was set to begin. So, Bryant got off the hook and is playing basketball free from worry again. How many wear Lakers’ #24 Jerseys or have posters of him on their walls?

Dare I go here: Michael Jordan might be the best athlete that ever played professional sports. One could argue that there was never nor will ever be anyone better to don a uniform. How much paraphernalia of his do we still have? Posters, books, videos, and cards fill our closets. How much did we worship him when he played? Did we not try to emulate him as a basketball player when we were kids? Did we not plaster our walls with posters of him? Did we not want to be like him? So many of us did that Gatorade made a song about it. Yet, did he not have a severe gambling problem? Maybe he still even does. Did he not try to cover up an extra marital affair? If you read The Jordan Rules, if I remember correctly, his teammates did not have the easiest time getting along with him either.

I could go on for pages upon pages, but the point is clear: those who we idolize fail us because they, like us, are human. We should try to emulate God and His Son, not sports stars, who are mere mortals, like ourselves. They, like us are born radically depraved, hating God (See Psalm 51:5, Genesis 6:5, Genesis 8:21, Jeremiah 17:9). They do not have to be taught how to have immoral, adulterous, covetous desires. They have them naturally and so do we. They are all liars (Psalm 116:11) and no liar can enter heaven (Revelation 21:8). Since they are covetous they cannot enter heaven (1 Corinthians 6:10). They have not put God first (Romans 3:11). They are pretty bad, huh? It might come as a surprise that you and I have all this (and more sinfulness) in common with these and other athletes. The only way their sinfulness can be forgiven is the same way yours and mine can be forgiven.

God has to awaken us to the state of our sinful condition. God the Father has to draw us sinners to His Son (Matthew 11:27, John 6:44), produce Godly sorrow over our sins (2 Corinthians 7:10, Matthew 5:4) that leads us to broken, humble repentance, which is absolutely essential for salvation (Matthew 4:17, Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30-31). When we realize our depraved, damned state, repent of (as if while you were living for your sin you were walking due South; living a life of repentance is walking from this point forward due North) our sins, God will give us a new, clean heart and new desires. (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Over time, we should notice evidences to our new life (1 John, Matthew 5-6). Then we should read our Bible daily and obey it. (Job 23:12). God will never let you down!

This used to be me. I was the one with my walls plastered, collecting the cards, taping the games, collecting a ton of useless artifacts, but God has done a work in me, cleansing me of my idols (Ezekiel 36:25), including sports. An idol is anything you put before God. You can make an idol with your hands or with your mind. I still have most of the stuff from my childhood, but I do not cling to it anymore, as I did then. I now have a fraction of what I used to have. Now, God is in more ways number one in my life. He will not have it any other way. You can try to convince yourself that your idolatry is not that bad today, but your arguments will not work with God.

Look at your life. Have you noticed patterns of idolatry in your own life? Maybe you thought of them as “no big deal,” but now you understand them to be what they are: idolatry. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Does your style of life consistently match up with the standard of Holy Scripture? Or do you trivialize your sins? Does your lifestyle consistently condone what Scripture consistently condemns? Could you be one of those Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:21-23? Please make you calling and election sure today (2 Peter 1:10). You might not have tomorrow.


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