"We are witnesses."
"Lifting the curse."
Sounds like I'm talking about... a certain basketball star?
Religious language has consistently surrounded one particular sports celebrity because of his tremendous athletic ability and potential to bring victory to a struggling city. His move to a new team, announced tonight, is making big waves.
When I read the outraged reactions of scorned fans ("you are dead to me"), it reminded me of how deep and penetrating our hunger is for God, yet how we fill it with idols like this talented man.
A long time ago, I heard a sermon illustration that made me cringe. A pastor admitted that he once got so thirsty when he was a boy that he bent down and slurped the water from an oil-slicked puddle in a parking lot. His thirst had driven him to drink dirty, contaminated water in place of the real, pure thing.
This powerful (and gross) example shows the depths to which we as humans will sink to quench our thirst. Even stronger than our thirst for water, however, is our driving need for love, for victory, for someone to save us.
I have settled so many times for idols that did not deliver - friends, love, academic achievement, even strangers that I admired. I put my hope for happiness in people and things that were never meant to bear the weight of that hope. I talked to a friend this week who knows he has placed his hopes, his worth, and his value in the hands of the wrong group of people, and yet, he can't seem to break free.
Whether it's a political figure, an athletic star, or a music legend, there is no one on earth who can deliver what we need deep in our souls. There is no husband or wife, no child or parent, no pet or movie or habit or food in the world that can feed what we need inside, what we hunger for so desperately.
These outcries I've read from devastated fans who've lost their "king" are symptoms of a much more serious thirst - the deep need for a real Savior who has the power to truly save, for The King of kings who has eternal and lasting authority. Looking for your hopes and dreams to be fulfilled in a sports championship is like drinking from a puddle in a parking lot. We were built to drink in so much more than that - to fellowship with God of all creation through a living, daily relationship with Jesus Christ, champion over sin and death itself.
Today, as I read about Jesus making his final journey to Jerusalem before his death, I caught a glimpse of the kind of hero I've been searching for all my life. Not only had he determined with resolute strength to endure unimaginable suffering for my sake, but he so firmly determined it as to "set his face like a flint." I love that description of him as it calls to mind a man so full of strength and power that all the evil forces of hell and suffering and death could not shake his confidence. His love was so strong for me that he resisted every ounce of his humanity that must have screamed for him to turn back.
Not only this, but as he drew closer to his certain betrayal and brutal execution, he paused because a man in distress cried out in faith, asking for healing. In all that he was facing, he never lost his patience and compassion for the lowest of the low in society or for the sickest and most disabled.
If that wasn't enough, he had the power to perform miracles. And just as he healed the blind man that day, he used that same awesome power to endure what no other human could, bearing the weight of all sin and rising from the dead to stand alive outside his own grave.
He did this all to save you and to save me.
Now, that's a King truly worthy of praise. Do you know him?