It is Thanksgiving time and I have much to be grateful for; family, friends, health and home. Most of all I am thankful for a God who forgives. Especially a God who forgives us when we blatantly sell out those things I have pledged to do. No, I am not talking about committing murder, adultery or any such thing. Nothing even, as dramatic as giving up a commitment to pacifism or anarchy. Not that God wouldn’t forgive a penitent heart of any of those sins. No I am talking about the minor sell outs that comprise the day to day routines of so many of us, me at least.
We all know about these sell outs. The diet that never quite gets started, the fitness regime that peters out or the commitment to be kinder to that irritating neighbor or co-worker. Or perhaps you have taken a stand and before you know it you are backpedaling, usually with some ridiculous rationale.
Well, this Thanksgiving I have backpedaled from a previously stated stand. However, I offer no rationale, none whatsoever. For some time I have increasingly taken a stand against football generally and the NFL specifically. There is not definitive proof that football causes brain damage but with every new piece of information the case gets stronger. Even if brain damage was not an issue, there is ample evidence of the long-term physical damage that often leaves former players unable to complete the basic activities of daily living. Then there is the clear crony capitalism that almost every NFL franchise engages in by getting local officials to foolishly subsidize stadium construction and development. Additionally, the culture surrounding the NFL is too often a drunken, boorish non-family friendly one.
Yet, for all that, I found myself attending an NFL game this weekend. Not just attending but attending in a private suite, the very bosom of the corporate NFL. I offer no excuses. I, did at first turn down the opportunity, presented to me by a family member. After some thought and the happenstance of being on the light rail train that happened to stop at the stadium about a month before the game, I caved. I looked at the stadium and said “fuck it, I’m in”. I mean, when would I ever have a chance to see an NFL game in a corporate suite?
I have to tell you, I was not disappointed. It was everything you would expect it to be. Great seats, great view and oh my, the food! It was, if nothing else an exercise in sheer gluttony. If I still drank, I would be in rehab.
The point of all this is to point out that we all compromise at one time or another. Most of us don’t (thankfully) commit murder or theft or adultery but we ALL compromise. We know deep down that we are all guilty and deserving of God’s justice. This was the comic point Bob Dylan was making in his great song Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, when he stated that everybody must get stoned (no this is not a song about smoking pot but about biblical stoning). As Dylan points out “we should not feel so all alone”, we are all in the same boat.
However, for us as Christians, we also believe that God bails us out of that boat by way of forgiveness. No matter what we have done, no matter what past sins we have committed we can and will be forgiven, if we have a penitent heart. This is not license for us to go and intentionally commit sins banking on God’s forgiveness. God will of course see through that facade. Rather this is to point out that we should not get hung up on out past sins as making us permanently separated from God. That kind of guilt is really Satan whispering in your ear; telling you that “you are not worthy of God and never will be, so turn away from God altogether.” Our response should be “yes Satan, we are dirty mean and unworthy, what of it?” We do not ever claim perfection, only forgiveness.
So when you cave, as I did this holiday, don’t let it derail your entire life and relationship with God. Roll with it, acknowledge that you are human and weak and pick yourself up, dust yourself off, ask for forgiveness and move on. This is especially true if you give in to the kind of Earthly temptations that find you backtracking from stands you have taken (this might be a lesson about where to draw lines) :). If you find yourself having caved, remember what Martin Luther said about sin, if you are going to sin, sin boldly. Then be just as bold and ask God for forgiveness.
Let us this Thanksgiving be ever grateful that we have a God that will forgive us and continue to love us regardless and maybe because of our obvious weakness. Besides, doesn’t he really want us to sit in an NFL skybox at least once in our lives?
Praise Be to God