Jesus Is Not An NFL Fan

I’ve never really liked Ray Lewis.

He played his college football at Miami.  If Saddam Hussein played college football, I’m positive that he would have played at Miami.

After college, Lewis was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.  When Saddam invaded Kuwait, he had a little help from the Baltimore Ravens.

A lot of people don’t like Ray Lewis and it has nothing to do with the teams he’s played for.

In the early morning hours following Super Bowl XXXIV, Lewis and a few hundred other folks were in an Atlanta nightclub.  As is usually the case when there are hundreds of people in an Atlanta nightclub at 4 in the morning, a fight broke out.  But this time, after the bottles of wine had stopped flying through the air and the knives were put away, two men lay dead in the street.

Ray Lewis and two others were charged with murder and aggravated assault.  The trial would dominate the news for nearly a month.

Eventually, the charges against Lewis would be dropped in exchange for his testimony against his two friends.  Even with that testimony, the jury found the two men not guilty.

Someone got away with murder.

In the months that followed, Ray Lewis spent a lot of money.  Some of that money was spent paying a hefty fine to the NFL and some of it was spent on undisclosed settlements to the victim’s families.

Almost a year after those murders, Ray Lewis went to the Super Bowl again but this time as a player.  His Ravens beat the Giants 34-7.

And this Sunday, Lewis will play in his second Super Bowl.

A lot has changed between his two championship appearances.  Ray Lewis has a new image and a new standing in society.  Now, the man who once fled from the scene of a murder is in a lot of commercials and, after wins, likes to quote Bible verses.

But there’s also a lot that hasn’t changed.

The people who have always loved Ray Lewis still love Ray Lewis.  They talk a lot about forgiveness and leaving the past in the past.  But you can be certain that if Ray Lewis was just another black man instead of one of the greatest football players of all time, most of his supporters would want him in jail.  Sometimes, performance has a lot to do with forgiveness.

The people who have never liked Ray Lewis really don’t like Ray Lewis now.  Some have used this year’s Super Bowl run to remind everyone they can about those two murders.  With every flattering interview by ESPN, every new commercial and every post-game Bible verse, they go to social media to remind us all that Ray Lewis is a killer.  Of course, if Ray Lewis played for their favorite team, he would just be a misunderstood athlete instead of a cold-blooded killer.

NFL fans can be a peculiar bunch.

Thankfully, Jesus is not an NFL fan.

Jesus doesn’t cheer for us while looking past our sins.  Instead, he confronts us, like he did to the adulterous woman at the well (John 4:16-18).

And he’s not interested in constantly reminding us of our past failures, measuring them out against our current performance.  Through faith and repentance, our sins have been placed on him (2 Corinthians 5:21) and there is no condemnation against us (Romans 8:1).

This Sunday night while cameras are constantly locked in on Ray Lewis some of us will forget that, at best, Lewis lied about two murders and, at worst, he got away with murder.  And the rest of us will see a man who didn’t get the punishment that his sins deserved and who is now enjoying a new standing that he certainly doesn’t deserve.

Hopefully, Christians will take the time to look a little closer at Ray Lewis.

If we look carefully enough, we’ll see that the man who got away with murder is a lot more like us than we care to admit.