The revelation of a video this week of Ray Rice hitting and knocking out his then fiancé has caused quite a stir. No doubt, his actions are deplorable and worthy of punishment. In fact, the NFL has suspended him indefinitely and the Baltimore Ravens have released him from their roster. Some have questioned whether or not he will ever play in the NFL again.
But this post is not about sports.
The thing that grabs my attention is how quickly people in general have jumped on Ray Rice and condemned him. Again, his actions are worthy of condemnation. Yet, it is interesting the sins that our culture deems deplorable (and seemingly unforgivable) and those that it seems to just overlook.
I think this is more than just varying morals. Sure, the Bible condemns things that our culture has willingly accepted as normal and okay (homosexuality being the big one that comes to mind). But even actions that most in our culture would agree are not okay hardly garner the response that Rice’s actions did. How many NFL players have cheated on their wives? How many have used illegal drugs? I am not going to speculate a guess but I haven’t heard of players being fired for adultery. It seems, our culture has a standard but that standard is in constant flux.
Regardless, the situation is far worse than Ray Rice, and all of us, can imagine. Why? Because the standard is not, ‘don’t commit an offense that the culture deems deplorable.’ The standard is set by God and it requires perfection. It requires not only never hitting your fiancé, but not even having the desire to do so in your heart or mind. It require not only not committing adultery, but not even having a lustful thought. By our holy God’s perfect standard, we all have a lifetime of deplorable actions to account for. And the Bible says that eternal death and punishment are what sinners deserve. Being suspended and losing your source of livelihood may seem bad, but standing before a holy God with a lifetime record of sin is far worse.
Yet, our hope is far greater than we could ever imagine. There seems to be little hope of away out of this for Ray Rice. When our culture finally does condemn sin, we go all the way and seem to offer no hope of reconciliation (a host of examples could be given here). But we are choosy about what sins we really condemn, God is not. Indeed we are all in the same situation of having not met God’s perfect standard and there seems to be little hope for us as well.
We need a way out. But a lifetime of not hitting your fiancé will not make up for even that one incident. Setting up a foundation that helps out battered women and being really nice to people will not make up for even that one incident, let alone a full record of other wrongdoings. No, God’s requirement is perfection and once you are no longer perfect you can’t undo it.
This is why the message of Jesus Christ is called good news. Really, that is underselling it. In the end, it is the only news, the supreme news, the life-saving, life-transforming news. God, in his love, sent his son Jesus Christ to live on this earth. He, unlike us, never sinned. He never hit a woman nor desired to do so. Yet, he died a criminal’s death. He died a death like he had committed many sins. Why? The Bible says that for anyone who turns from their sin and puts their faith in Christ, his death atones for theirs. Meaning, he dies in our place. On the cross he took on the sin of all of his people. From lying to punching your fiancé to murder. He paid the penalty for that sin.
The news is far greater than we can imagine because we have a savior who stood in our place if we will trust in him. Ray Rice, don’t try to make up for what you did by just telling people you were sorry or touting out a new PR campaign. That may atone for your sin in the culture, but it will never make you right with your creator. Trust in Christ and his payment of your sin on the cross. Trust that he gives new life, new motives, new desires.
In the end, everyone of us is in the same position before God. Maybe we haven’t done what he did, but we have in some way broken the law of God. Still, our only hope is the same.
Trust in Christ.