|Photo credit to raylewis52.com|
On Sunday, February 3rd, the Baltimore Ravens will return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2001. No matter how the game ends, they're losing a really good linebacker...and an even better example of God's grace.
Ray Lewis is a man who helped the Ravens become Super Bowl champions in 2001 and a defensive juggernaut for the last decade. He is retiring at the end of this season, partially due to spending 15 years tackling people like this. But in the midst of this success, he's also been one of the most polarizing figures in sports. Why?
His on-field resume: Twelve-time Pro Bowl player. Seven-time All-Pro. Two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Super Bowl MVP. ESPN called him the best defensive player of all time.
His off-field resume: Guilty of obstruction of justice in the January 2000 stabbing deaths of two men. Father of six children born to four different women.
Ray Lewis is going to the Hall of Fame. Would you let him in your house?
What if he was a professing Christian? Because he is.
For a moment, don't roll your eyes when you hear that he thanks God publicly, prays during games, and wears Christian t-shirts. Don't mock when he says that the real reason he's retiring is that God is calling him to spend more time with his kids and become a public speaker.
Still...37 years old. I'll still be paying off my school loans then. You and I might be working thirty years longer than Ray Lewis, and our children might have to help us financially when we get old. Ray Lewis probably won't have to worry about money anymore.
If your blood pressure is still rising, consider the meatiest portion: if Ray Lewis actually trusts in Jesus, he will get to to hang out with Jesus for eternity. He'll take his place alongside guys like David and Moses. And if you go to heaven, you might be his neighbor. That's not fair. And it shouldn't be, because grace isn't fair. David and Moses were murderers.
And I've heard lines like that a thousand times and said them just as many...but when I think about how OPEN the gates of heaven really are, I get mad.
Still, I fight to believe in grace, and sometimes I literally choke down phrases like this: "If I don't believe ANYONE can go to heaven, I have laughed at the blood of Jesus and attempted to hijack the cross."
Because I still think I'm the main point. But the truth is found right in Psalm 91, on the t-shirt worn by Ray Lewis, pictured right. The first verse says, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."
Because it really is still all about God's mercy sheltering me from Hell. I spend so much time focusing on my sin, and the sin of others. I spend so little time focusing on the relentless grace of Jesus and even less time proclaiming it.
God be merciful to me, a sinner.
Thanks for the reminder Ray,