Contend Earnestly: Learning from the Michael Vick Situation

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Learning from the Michael Vick Situation

I was listening to Seattle's sports station the other day when the news hit the wires that Vick is expecting to return to football when he gets out of jail this Summer. It was interesting to hear the responses from callers and also the local radio show host, who always seems to know little of the subjects that he comments on. As I was hearing the conversations take place on live air, it made me chuckle and also just shake my head at the world view many of these people have. In case you haven't heard and have been in a cave looking for unicorns, you can read why Vick went to jail here.

As I was listening it made me think of how a Christian should respond in these situations and what our reactions should be, not only to this, but to anyone who sins against us in such a public way.

The first is biblical forgiveness. Many callers on the show kept saying that the NFL should restate him because everyone deserves a "second chance." This is an overstatement in so many ways. The NFL is a corporation, and like any corporation, image to the customers is key. Now, we might argue that there might be a double standard here (which I will discuss below) but still, the corporation gets to decide what is deemed as an unforgivable image offense and what is deemed as an offense worth a "second chance."

Biblical forgiveness is a forgiveness that forgets the sin, but not the sinner. We learn that when God forgives us that he wipes it from our slate and that it is as far as the east is from the west. But, we are also told to not make a brother stumble. So, to simply say, "forgive and forget" and leave it at that is not that simple. Let me give you an extreme so you get my gist of this. If I were to find out that someone was beating my child when they were baby sitting them, I could forgive them but that doesn't mean that I simply allow them to babysit my child again. That is called stupidity. The same process should be used with anyone that sins against us. We should be careful that we don't cross the line of biblical forgiveness with "turning a blind eye" to their sinful tendencies. If we allow someone to be put back into a situation that would tempt them to fall back into their sin, we should be held accountable. We need to be careful as Christians as does the NFL with Michael Vick and his restatement. If they do restate him, I would put some clauses in his contract on ways to try and keep him out of past sins and tendencies. That to me, would be the Christian way to handle this.

Second, is the fact that all our sin is atrocious. The radio host made a comment that other players that get caught doing drugs and have an alcohol problem should not be seen in the same light, because they have a disease, not a moral problem with their actions. Wow, what a statement. What I have noticed with this Michael Vick situation is that what he has done to dogs is seen as more important than a player beating his wife, or a player endangering the lives of other humans by driving under the influence. If we really want to get to the bottom of this, those acts done against image bearers are much more atrocious than those done against dogs. Both are sins though and both are ones that should be taken seriously. What I noticed is that the radio host and the callers continued to make Michael Vick their standard and would say, this player or that player is okay because they didn't do what Michael Vick did. Or, they would point out that they themselves were okay, because they didn't do what Michael Vick did. Michael Vick became their standard of holiness.

We as Christians love to do the same thing. We set others as our standard, when they aren't our standard but, in actuality, are a mirror of our sin. I was riding the bus the other day when a transvestite came aboard and I started to think, "I have to start to see my sin on the inside as disgusting as this transvestites sin that they are showing on the outside." Until I see my sin, the way I see the transvestites sin, I will always hold myself out to be more holy than I actually am.

We must stop comparing ourselves to others, and must compare ourselves to the only holy God. When we are commanded to follow the law perfectly, told to be perfect as He is perfect, be holy as our heavenly Father is perfect, we should understand that HE is our standard and holiness is our calling. When we see ourselves in those eyes, we will stop being so confounded at others and their sin and we will see that they are only reminding us of the ugliness of sin that is in our own lives! The good thing is that God is not the NFL or the finite, sinful callers that called into the radio show. God is a God that sent His Son because He knows what we don't get. Namely, we are Michael Vick. We need to be reconciled to God and the difference is that God gives us this through His Son, not our "improved actions" or payment of our penalty with jail time.

For the record, I hope that Vick gets reinstated so that the conversation continues on sin and comparison between him and the others in the NFL continue to be looked at.

In the end though, I will not hold the NFL responsible if they decide to not reinstate Vick, because it is their company, and they get the final vote on their image and their employees.


Anonymous said...

Great stuff here Seth. I've often wished there were more people talking about sin in the context of sports/athletes/etc. if only because their sin issues are so visible.

I would also like to see true repentance from athletes, instead of the kind of PR-department-generated mad-libbed "apologies" that we hear so often. Apologies along the lines of "I'm sorry someone took offense to ____."

For what it's worth, I don't see Vick making a return to the league. I think Vick is the perfect opportunity for the NFL to "get tough" and "make an example" out of someone, without actually taking any risk on their part. Vick was wholly mediocre before his legal situation, and he's now older, rustier, and ostensibly still mediocre. All that to say, the NFL doesn't lose anything by shutting him down completely.

Anonymous said...


Well put. You said " If we really want to get to the bottom of this, those acts done against image bearers are much more atrocious than those done against dogs."

I find the sin comparisons absurd. But our society has determined that animal life is more precious than the image bearer of our creator. What do we expect from a lot that thinks we only evolved to our current state?

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