Super Bowl Champ Ray Lewis and the Gospel

Congratulations Baltimore fans, your team just won the Super Bowl.

The Ravens put together an amazing run in the playoffs, knocking off all the perennial favorites before jumping in the suit of the underdog one last time and knocking out the 49ers.

In case you missed it, Ray Lewis is a member of the Super Bowl Champion Ravens.
He’s the All-World Linebacker who likely has already cemented his legacy, and his spot in Canton.

He’s also the guy that you couldn’t get away from these past few weeks.

He was everywhere. All the time.

Shouting while crying.

Some people love him, others love to hate him.

Yesterday, before the game started, CBS aired an interview between Ray Lewis and former teammate Shannon Sharpe. In it, Sharpe questioned Lewis about the infamous incident from 13 years ago that left two people dead and a host of unanswered questions. Many still believe that Lewis was either involved in the killing somehow, or at the LEAST has not been forthcoming about what actually happened that night.

Lewis, in response to Sharpe’s questions yesterday about the incident, stayed consistent with his non-helpful answers. He never came out and denied any involvement, nor did he offer any sort of insight as to what happened.

At times, Ray Lewis can be pretty aggressive and in-your-face when sharing his religious perspective. So he was quick to bring it all back to God in the interview. And here is what he said, by way of hinting at his innocence:

“If you really knew how God works, he don’t use people who commit anything like that (murder) for his glory… No way! It’s the total opposite!”

Meaning this: you want proof that I’m innocent of murder? Look at my life these past 13 years. I’ve been hugely successful, and have gone to great extremes to always point my success to God. To always give him glory. So of COURSE I could not have been involved in anything like murder, because God doesn’t use people who does things like THAT to bring him glory!

Oh Ray… could you have possibly suggested a more erroneous perspective of the Good News?

Have you ever READ the Bible?

The type of person you are describing seems to be just about everyone in the Bible, and most of the time the whole point is precisely that God DOES use such people to bring about his glory.

Here’s three of the most famous people from the Bible. And all three either committed or were involved with murder.

-The Apostle Paul

You could expand the list and add some other shady characters.

-Jacob (thief, manipulator)
-Judah and Tamar (prostitution)
-Peter (denied knowing Jesus)

And the list could go on.

But the point is this: Mr Lewis, where do you get off suggesting that if we REALLY knew God, then we could discover that God does not use people who commit atrocious sins?

Actually, it would appear that by your own life testimony, you’re a witness against yourself.

One might suggest that, precisely BECAUSE you’ve “brought God much glory” these past 13 years, then Biblically speaking it must be because you WERE involved somehow in those murders.

That actually makes a lot more “biblical” sense.

Anyways, my point is not to accuse Ray of being involved, or being a murderer. By all accounts, Ray seems to be a pretty decent guy (especially after you read this story, which I really dig… in fact, THIS story is a much better witness to the Gospel than was Ray’s interview with Shannon)

My point is to call out the terrible theology that he suggested yesterday.
That “good” people are blessed by God and used by God.
And that “bad” people, therefore, are not.

You couldn’t be more wrong.


God Needs a New Quarterback

Kurt Warner Announces Retirement

Well, it’s official.

Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner has decided it’s time to walk away from the game he loves, to spend more time with the people he loves (and less time getting the snot beat out of him).

I, for one, as an Arizona Cardinal fan, will most certainly miss him. Not only is he an incredible quarterback that any team would be lucky to have, but he seems to be a man of great integrity and faith.

Always quick to give God the glory, Kurt was adamant that people knew that his relationship with Jesus was the most important thing to him. Some were rubbed the wrong way by this (understandably so) but many others were thankful for his public professions of faith.

So it now seems that God has lost his starting quarterback.

Who is going to take his place? I think there are two possibilities:

1) The Obvious Choice – Tim Tebow

Tim and His Famous Eye Black

Tebow has been the collegiate Kurt Warner, so to speak. He, like Warner, never missed an opportunity in front of a mic to give glory to his King. His college career was great (arguably one of the best ever), but does he have what it takes to succeed in the NFL? Other than possibly being the next Kurt Warner, will he be the next Steve Young, or the next Danny Weurfel?

2) The Unexpected Choice – Philip Rivers

Can he usurp Tebow??

Rivers is mostly thought of as a super talented young QB with a super hot head. His teammates, however, insist what we see as “hot-headedness” is just Rivers having fun and being himself. He is not as outspoken as Warner or Tebow, but God may like his chances with this backup.

So, who’s it going to be? Someone well known already (like a Rivers or Tebow), or will God once again look to the grocery stores, the realms of obscurity, to find his diamond in the rough…

Regarding U of O and LaGarette Blount

A day after the football season began for the University of Oregon, it ended for star running back LeGarrette Blount.

If you missed it, after the Ducks got beat by Boise St in the season opener, Blount dished a right hook to Boise St player, Bryan Hout, after Hout spat some trash talking Blounts way. Coaches had to essentially drag Blount off the field, where he even tried to go after some fans in his uncontrollable rage. As a native Oregonian, I was certainly embarrassed and ashamed of Blounts behavior… it was absurdly uncalled for.

Blount dealing a blunt blow
Blount dealing a blunt blow

The next day, first year coach Chip Kelly announced that Blount was suspended for the rest of the football season. This was quite a shock to most people who believed the punishment was too severe.

I think I was in the minority. I liked the sentence. I felt the actions were severe enough to warrant a no non-sense consequence. Some people fall victim to the “make-an-example-out-of-‘em” situation, and this might have been one of them, but I still felt it was a good decision.

Notice I said “good” decision, not “right” decision. I don’t think there was a right or wrong decision in this, or other like, situations. There are so many factors that play in to scenarios like this, and we the public are only privy to a small sliver. I feel it’s a little naive to think there is a “right” or “wrong” way to handle this, as though it’s a simple math formula you can just work out.

And now, Chip Kelly has come out and announced that they’re working on a plan that might allow Blount to be reinstated the first of November for the final 4 games of the season.

And again, I think I’m in the minority because I think that this too is also a “good” decision. And again, I think we do a disservice to the story and the people involved by assuming there is a “right and wrong” way to handle this. Rather maybe we should think in terms of good, better, best, and bad, worse, worse still.

I like the fact that originally they came out and said, “look, you screwed up… bad. And as such, you’re done. You can practice with us, but you will not play with us. Focus on your studies and hope that some pro team might gamble on you in the draft.” And now, as time has progressed, they have had a chance to process it further and treat it as a dynamic scenario rather than a static one. Blout has made many apologies, and has tried his best to make things right (all within the context of it not really mattering, because he was done for the season. It wasn’t like he was trying to get off early for good behavior. As far as he was concerned it didn’t matter what he did. And yet, he chose to be remorseful and commit to change.) I think that the University of Oregon was able to assess Blount’s behavior, and assess their original decision, and come to a point where they can say, “hey, you know what? Maybe he does deserve a second chance. Maybe the whole season was a bit extreme. Let’s talk about this.” And that, I think, is a “good” thing.

I’m not worried at all about it “sending a wrong message” to athletes from UofO.  In fact, I think if anything it could send a good message: we’re not incapable of changing our minds if you demonstrate remorse and work towards change.

One could argue that a “better” thing would have been for Oregon to suspend him indefinitely. That way they could move forward with several options open. But even then I might take issue…

I liken it to disciplining a child. Sometimes you might say to your son, “you are grounded. What you did was wrong, and now you’re grounded.” “For how long?” your son might ask. “Forever.” (Obviously your being hyperbolic, so maybe the metaphor breaks down at this point). Now, maybe, just maybe, if you tell him, “for two weeks,” he just sorta sits back and waits… figuring, “allright, it’s only two weeks, no big deal. I don’t REALLY need to be remorseful or work towards change.” And I think that might have been the case with Blount. If they would’ve just said he’s suspended for 3 games, where’s the motivation to change, to work towards being a healthier person who makes better choices?

All this to say, I think that Oregon’s initial punishment was good, and I also think it’s very good that they may create conditions by which he could be reinstated. I applaud both decisions.

What do you think? Was the initial suspension good or bad? And what about the new decision to possibly let him come back for the final 4 games?