Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jerry Sandusky and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Let's just be open and honest about this whole mess at Penn State University with Jerry Sandusky.  Things quit frankly are not looking good.  Being a huge sports fan I have been compelled to follow this story but only to a certain degree.  The reason: It's a hard story to follow.  Hard because it's gross.  It's a story of perversion.  It is a sad story but one that does not shock me. But in this post I don't want to focus in on the case or the crime but rather our response to wickedness.

Why?

I'll start by saying:  Jerry Sandusky is a wicked, sinful man.  (Stick with me)  If you were to ask the general public, "Is Jerry Sandusky a wicked man?"  I think right now the general answer would be "yes."  But before this scandal he was a good man in eyes of the general public or at worst an unknown man.  The problem is having a mindset that his status has changed because of this scandal.  But the truth be told he has always been a wicked man.  I think most people are compelled to this story because now there is a new person to hold up and say, "I'm good because I haven't done what he has done."  The public loves this story because there is a poster boy of wickedness and most of us rank above him as "good people."  We feel better about ourselves because we think, "I would never do anything like he did."   When we think in this manner we show that we are wicked, sinful people as well.  Sadly, we have have always been wicked, sinful people. 

We enjoy the failures of others because it puffs up our pride.  We are always searching for people who outwardly are worse off than we are because we feel so much better about ourselves.  This is why we need a standard or better yet an authority.  Goodness has become a relative term and the standard is whatever we set.  This makes us the authority.  But natural born sinners cannot set the standard for other natural born sinners.  Therefore, I am not the authority.  You are not the authority.  No human being is an authority unless that human being perfectly obeyed the perfect standard set by the Creator.  There is only one authority and he says this about each one of us:  "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:10-12). 

"But...I've never committed a crime of Sandusky's magnitude." 
"You know if I had been in Joe Paterno's shoes I would have done better." 
"If I was the president of Penn State I would have handled things in a right manner." 

Maybe things could have been handled better but my point in this articles is for us to examine why we react the way we do to such sad news.  In each of these responses we are assuming we are "good people."  We are assuming our hearts are always set on doing what is right but that is a wrong assumption.  God says our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).  You say, "Not mine."  Really?  Would you the creation call into question your Creator?  That doesn't make sense. 

As Christians we should all examine our hearts and pursue Christ so that we can fight against the temptations and sins in this life.  What I love about the gospel is that it puts all of us on a level playing field.  Sandusky is not someone that should us feel better about ourselves.  This story is not a cause for self-righteousness.  As Christians we stand at the foot of the cross as forgiven sinners.  Were it not for God's grace, where would we be?  Yes, this crime is hideous.  But when we stand at the foot of the cross we can easily see how hideous our own sins are.  We can see clearly our own wicked hearts.  God had to come in the flesh in order to die a criminal's death so that my sins could be pardoned.  As Christians we shouldn't look to Jerry Sandusky and feel better about ourselves.  The cross already tells us how wicked and sinful we are.  If you're puffed up in pride when you see the wickedness of another person than you just don't get the cross and really haven't seen your own heart.  As forgiven sinners we should be grieving over the sins of another not rejoicing and patting ourselves on the back.  That doesn't make sense. 

We should be praying for the victims.  We should be praying for the school.  We should be praying for Jerry Sandusky.  While the cross speaks volumes about our wickedness, it speaks louder of God's grace and forgiveness for those who will repent and trust in Christ.  Jerry Sandusky can be forgiven of his sins.  There will still be consequences in this life for his crimes but he can find freedom in Christ.  This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is why the world despises the gospel.  But it is so true and so glorious.  How do I know?  God promises: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).  This promise isn't for "good people" who don't realize they need Jesus but for sinners who realize they cannot save themselves. The best of deeds won't outweigh his perfect righteousness and the worst of sinners can be covered in his perfect righteousness.  Trust me, I've been forgiven.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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