Let’s face it, we all mess up, need forgiveness, and to be given a second chance. Many times it is a third, fourth, fifth, etc. chance. As parents we always tell our children, if you make a mistake own it, admit it, ask for forgiveness, learn from it, and move on. Of course sometimes that is easier said than done. One such case in point is a former football player by the name of Ray Rice. Earlier this year Mr. Rice did something disgusting, despicable, abhorrent, and any other adjective you can think of that describes something horrible. In case you haven’t seen it or heard about it, he punched his then fiance in an elevator and knocked her out. It must be said that there is never a time or a reason for a man to hit a woman, even if she hit you first! You remove yourself from the situation, you walk away, you do whatever you have to, but you never lay a hand on her. That is man training 101. But we all know that sometimes in the heat of the moment we say or do something that we later regret. I don’t know Mr. Rice nor do I know his now wife. Hopefully he regrets what he did, and not just because he lost his job and paycheck over the incident. Hopefully he regrets it because he knows it was wrong. To make matters worse, when the story first broke the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, handed down a rather light sentence to Mr. Rice. Now this week the new video has surfaced and led to Mr. Rice’s contract being terminated with the Baltimore Ravens, the NFL suspending him indefinitely, and the loss of endorsement deals for Mr. Rice. There are calls for further investigation by the police, jail time for Mr. Rice, and even for Mr. Goodell to resign as commissioner of the NFL. I have my opinion on all of those things, but will choose not to air those opinions here. However, I do believe this is a teachable moment, especially for the Christian community. How should this situation be handled by those involved?
First, commissioner Goodell needs to admit to making some mistakes in this case. He has thrown out a blanket statement of “we didn’t get this right” a week or so ago. That might be the understatement of the year. In fact, that weak answer might even make a politician blush and giggle for its absurdity. Mr. Goodell needs to admit and own what the league office knew and saw, and when they knew it and saw it. I am open to the fact that maybe the NFL didn’t see this new video until recently. Obviously the police and the district attorneys didn’t have all the evidence as they allowed him to plead down to a misdemeanor and enter anger management/couples counseling. But hiding behind blanket statements and not admitting specific mistakes is not confessing to wrong doing. Confession is the first step towards repentance and ultimately towards forgiveness biblically speaking. 1 John 1:9 says, “if you confess. . .”
Secondly, I think we should applaud Mrs. Rice. I don’t think I could marry someone who months earlier knocked me out cold. But she did and even this week in light of the new video, Mrs. Rice has stood by her man. We can guess at why she is doing it and come up with theories, but the bottom line is she thus far is staying with her husband. My prayer is that she is not putting herself in harms way. I hope this was an ugly, one time incident. But it is refreshing to see someone be committed to trying to make a marriage work. Even under the best circumstances marriage is not easy. It seems easier in today’s society to get a divorce than it is to sign up your child for a sports team (parents know what I’m talking about). People get divorced over so many reasons today. Yet Mrs. Rice against all odds is choosing to try to work this out with her husband. Marriage is a sacred institution, created by God, and should be honored, defended, and only entered into with serious commitment to the phrase “till death do us part.”
Finally, as Christians we need to see this as an opportunity to speak the truth of the Bible into society. Is what Mr. Rice did deplorable? Absolutely it is! But then again so is any sin that any of us commit in God’s eyes. Man may have created some artificial hierarchy of sin, but God hasn’t. A sin is a sin is a sin in God’s eyes. They all deserve the same punishment. Yet in His love, God sent His Son into the world, to die for the sins of the world, that we may be forgiven and redeeemed. That is the message that I and many others proclaim everyday. That is the message we must preach even in this situation, redemption. It is so easy to be judgmental, but God calls us to love and to forgive. Just imagine if your worst moment as a human being was videoed and aired on national television, social media, and the internet for the whole world to see. My guess is we probably wouldn’t be as hard on Mr. Rice or anyone else for that matter, because we would be so embarrassed by our own actions. And that is what we need to remember, we have all done things that are horrible, deplorable, disgusting, and despicable, Mr. Rice’s just happened to be videoed and aired. But make no qualms about it, our actions, our thoughts, and even our intents are known to God. The message that must be proclaimed through this situation is simple. Mr. Rice, Mr. Goodell, NFL, and world, redemption is available through the blood of Jesus Christ if you will confess your sin, turn from it, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him