Friday, February 1, 2013

Super Bowl Preview...I Don't Like Ray Lewis

The other day over at Mockingbird, Nick Lannon wrote an article about the redemption of Ray Lewis, Baltimore's fiery linebacker. It was a loving, compassionate article which avoided judging Ray for his sins and instead focused on our common ground with Ray as sinners.

It's really a well-written, theologically important article.

This one isn't.

You see, here's the thing--I dislike Ray Lewis. I really dislike him. I won't use the word 'hate' because Jesus told us not to. But look up 'hate' in a thesaurus and see if you can get the idea of my feelings for Ray-Ray. (Disclaimer: Yes, I'm a lifelong 49ers fan, as I mentioned before. But my dislike of Ray predates this Super Bowl matchup.)

Now here I am, a guy who in the past told people to stop hating on dog-killer and all around thug Michael Vick. An entire chapter in my book is dedicated to not judging others since we did not go through their same lifestyle. So who am I, then, to hate on Ray Lewis?

I have often pointed out that we are to be radically, shockingly forgiving to others. Jesus certainly was. But there was something that, in the Scripture, consistently angers Jesus and His followers.

The people who anger Jesus are the hypocritically religious. Jesus calls these people snakes, wolves in sheeps clothing, and dead inside. But we are all sinners, yes? Absolutely. But what God seeks for is a contrite heart, a willing submission, an admission that we did wrong. What angers Jesus into a fury in the Scripture are those who pretend religiousness but make no effort to admit their sins and reform their lives.

It is not their sin that is the problem--Jesus is the friend of sinners. It is those who refuse to admit sin and hide behind a front of religiosity in order to make themselves appear to be religious that angers Jesus.

And that is why Lewis angers me so much.

Lewis is beloved by the media because he (unlike many athletes) loves the cameras being on him. He is indefatiguable with interviews. He is funny and clever and passionate. He remembers reporters' names and shares good feedback that they can use in articles. He talks about his faith in God as boldly as any athlete not named Tebow, and yet the media is not snide in dealing with him. So for many Christians, Lewis is a star to be admired for sharing his faith so boldly.

Of course like all of us, Lewis is a sinner--some of them being what the Didache calls "grave" sins. He was involved in a nightclub brawl that left two men stabbed to death, blood in Lewis' car, and Lewis' suit suspiciously missing. Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice in return for testifying against his friends. Lewis has six children by four different women--none of them his wife. Lewis is only healthy for this Super Bowl, according to Sports Illustrated, because of his use of a banned substance similar to human growth hormone.

So he has sins, by the boatload. And he has (or certainly claims to have) Jesus as a Savior. So why am I not thankful for such a public figure showing everyone that God does, in fact, love sinners?

I think the reason is because I see absolutely no remorse or admission of guilt from Lewis. In every instance above, he claims no wrongdoing.

Instead of admitting error in his sexual history, he is denying child support to one child and suing the mother.

Instead of admitting to any involvement in the murder situation he sticks with an implausible story, withholds any details from it, destroys evidence, and glowers at any reporter who asks about it.

Instead of admitting that he did took performance enhancing drugs he denies it--even though Sports Illustrated says that they have heard a recording made by the maker of the drugs, who recorded Lewis admitting that he had them at the house and asking how many and when and how to use them.

That is my problem with Ray Lewis. When I look at him, I do not see the broken sinner, repenting and asking for Jesus to heal them. I do not hear the confessor admitting mistakes and pointing to God as His rock. I do not see a man of humility, shamed by his past and relying on His Christ for a future.

I see a man who goes out of his way to be a glory-hound. A man who uses the word "God" not as a savior but a shield, to protect him from criticism. A man who seeks to draw as many cameras around him as possible, but who then hides his sin, lies about it, and plays the victim who is offended to even be asked about it.

My dislike of Lewis and distrust of his oft-proclaimed faith has nothing to do with his sinful past, and everything to do with his extreme effort to hide it. He is not a man who is open about his sin and preaches about a savior come to save Him. He is a man who hides his sin, lies about it, refuses to discuss it, and goes out of his way to seek out the cameras and media attention.

I don't know Lewis' heart. Only God does. I hope that I am just misreading it, and if so I pray the Spirit will correct me.

But to me, he sure looks more like the whitewashed tombs who angered Jesus than like the broken sinners with whom Jesus dined.

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