Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Josh Hamilton vs. The Super Apostles

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul takes on some opponents to the gospel. Their message is that God is with them because they are impressive. They are good speakers, good-looking, and have good resumes. They have been telling the Corinthians to listen to them, to side with them, because God has empowered them to be impressive. Paul sarcastically refers to his opponents as "super-apostles."
Today's super-apostles certainly include the ranks of most Christian athletes.
I am a huge sports fan, but I often find myself frustrated with athletes who attach God to their accomplishments. He is a sort of talisman to them. They pray to him and give him glory. He gives them victory over their opponents. After their victories, like the super-apostles, they proclaim that others should worship their God because God has made them impressive and powerful.
* Just for the record, I am not talking about Tim Tebow. There seems to be an inaccurate impression that he believes that God makes him successful because of his faith. People miss the fact that Tebow honors and thanks God when he loses, and shows dignity and class while doing so.
Back to this post.
Josh Hamilton, impressive as he is (an American League Most Valuable Player award and back to back World Series appearances), proclaims a different message. He sees the same gospel that Paul proclaims in 2 Corinthians: Power in weakness.
Josh Hamilton made history on May 8th by blasting four home runs in a single game. He is only the 16th player in Major League history to accomplish this feat. But Josh is known not only for his accomplishments on the field, but also for his struggle off the field.
Josh Hamilton is a recovering addict.
After being drafted #1 overall in 1999, a string of injuries and failed drug tests almost took him completely out of baseball. Since his successful resurgence with the Texas Rangers, Josh has had a couple of relapses. To his credit, he has taken responsibility for this instead of making excuses.
On April 26th, about two weeks before Hamilton exploded into the record books with his four home runs, he was a guest on The Dan Patrick Show (you can still find the interview on the third hour of that day's podcast). Most of the interview focused on the Rangers and Josh's baseball career. But the end of the interview got personal. Dan asked Josh what it is that has led to the relapses. Josh's response was, "When I take my power back, instead of relying on my relationship with Christ. . .more times than not, I'm heading down a path that I don't want to go."
The significance of this should not be passed over too quickly.
Josh Hamilton does not see God the way the super-apostles (or super-athletes) see him. To them, God is someone who provides them with power to surpass the accomplishments of others. To Hamilton, and the Apostle Paul, God is someone who shows his power by carrying weak and impressive people to victory.
If we buy the gospel of the super-apostles, then we will believe that others will come to Christ by seeing him empower strong people to surpass others in business and academics and athletics and morality. If we buy the true gospel, the one Josh Hamilton embraces, then we will believe that others will come to Christ by seeing him empower weak people to humble victories that can only be explained by a supernatural God.

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