Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Celebrity Mystique

It's been a tough couple of years for Christian sports fans. The more I watch sports, the more uncomfortable I become. It is a little hard to simply sit and enjoy a game when the next commercial break will include three curse words, a Go Daddy Commercial, and other inappropriate material. Sadly, sometimes it's no better watching the games themselves. Players with massive egos, and sometimes rap sheets, running around thinking more of themselves and their big contracts than anything else. It's honestly getting tiresome. Long gone are the days of true heroes like Roberto Clemente, Bart Starr, Mel Blount, or Mario Lemieux. At least we still have Sidney Crosby.

I make no bones about being a fan of Pittsburgh sports. Being born and raised in Pittsburgh, I've been going to Pirate baseball games since I was five. Some of my greatest memories in life are centered around a certain sporting event. I'll never forget my first baseball game with my Dad. My favorite player at the time, Mike Diaz, (anyone remember him?) hit a home run. We had box seats, and in what later became a strained relationship with my Dad, it became a great memory.

I remember where I was when Sid Bream slid across home plate in Game 7 (any Pirate fan knows exactly what I mean). I didn't go to school the next day, Dad let us stay home. I remember where I was when Mario split the North Star's defense and "beat Casey like a rented mule!" Incredible.

Since the 70's (oh the glorious 70's), the City's crown jewel has been the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Pens were up and down, and the Pirates have had some awful moments, the Steelers are the class of the NFL and the greatest franchise in it's history both on and off the field.

Or at least they used to be.

In the past few years, they've employed players who've done things that no decent human being with a hint of a brain ought to do. The most recent, and perhaps the most popular story is of Ben Roethlisberger's escapades in Georgia.

The face of the Pittsburgh Steeler did his best to be as unpopular and slimy as Tiger Woods. He's certainly a pariah in the city right now.

I think there is a strange irony among those who are so critical of Roethlisberger. It is often said in criticism of celebrities that they think they can get away with anything and/or think they can do no wrong. I wonder why we're surprised by this. Is this not the general state of mankind? Haven't all sinned and fallen short of God's glory? Are not all dark and desperately wicked? Is it not all of us who profess our own goodness, and not just celebrities?

Of course these things are true.

This, however, is where my defense of Ben Roethlisberger ends. The man ought to be ashamed of himself. As unfortunate as the incident is, I hope it will serve him well in bringing him to a realization of just how wicked he is and how desperately he needs a Savior. The state of Georgia may not have been able to make a case against him, but he should not think that he will escape the judgment of God.

This story, as unfortunate as it is, and as gossip-like as it has become, can serve as a reminder the depths of evil of which we are all capable. What Ben did, and a few of his team mates have done, is not some out of control celebrity acting beyond the boundaries of normal human behavior. On the contrary, the behavior is quite normal, and rightfully quite disturbing. The only thing that being a celebrity changes is the means and opportunity to be sinful. In other words, left to our own depraved selves, we'd being doing the same type of thing Ben did. Perhaps even worse.

Let's look at the first part of John 8, as I think it could be instructive to my points.

1)But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2)Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
3)Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
4)they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
5)Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"
6)This they said, testing Him, that they might have [something] of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with [His] finger, as though He did not hear.
7)So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."
8)And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9)Then those who heard [it], being convicted by [their] conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest [even] to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

My dear readers, that part is for all of you. Instead of sitting around and wagging our fingers, talking about how bad someone else is and puffing ourselves up as if we wouldn't do the same things, or worse, apart from Christ. Let us be humble and remember that we're no better save for God's redemptive work in us! Yes, it's a public issue, and yes, we should clearly declare these things to be sinful. But ultimately, it should only serve to remind us of our own depravity and our own need for a Savior.

But there is more to John 8:

10) When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"
11) She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

Ben (and Tiger), this part is for you mostly, but for any reader generally to whom it might apply. Notice how this woman implicitly admits her sin. She doesn't argue with Jesus, nor does she lament her treatment. She simply answers the question and calls Jesus Lord. Guys, stop making excuses, especially the ridiculous ones. Your problem isn't some lady is trying to sue you, or that you have some addiction beyond your control. Your problem is that you are sinful, and you need a Savior.

No you may say that this demonstrates that Jesus was no at all concerned with her sin. Yet, you'd be hard pressed to make that point if you read the standard Jesus gave us for goodness, specifically about the 7th commandment. in Matt 6.

You stand guilty before a Just Judge. You have broken His laws and deserve every bit of hell that's coming to you. We all do. But Jesus, loving this sinful disgusting world, came to die in our place, satisfying the Father's wrath and providing forgiveness of our sins. I'm here to tell you that Jesus forgave the adulteress in John 8, and He will forgive you too.

Jhn 6:35
And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
Jhn 6:36
"But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.
Jhn 6:37
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

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