Friday, May 2, 2014

Room for Redemption

A firestorm erupted in the sports world recently with the revelation that the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is a racist although, as Kareem Abdul Jabbar and others pointed out, the NBA has known that for quite some time. The controversy continues to swirl, as the league looks for a way to force Sterling to sell the team. Now reports of prostate cancer and a possible divorce have been added to the mix. Donald Sterling has become a pariah. He has been banned for life from the NBA, and his name is becoming a byword for the worst kind of individual.

Sterling's statements and his attitudes are reprehensible and should be condemned. I don't see anything in them that is defensible. What strikes me about this incident is not the fact that a rich owner of a sports franchise has been outed as a racist. The fact that a human being is a sinner is not a surprise at all. What strikes me is the seeming impossibility of any chance of redemption for Donald Sterling. Now, whether or not Sterling should be redeemed by the league is something that is way above my pay grade. Most would say that there is no way he should ever be involved in professional sports again, and I think I would agree with them. Sometimes the consequences of our actions last a lifetime.

When I think of Donald Sterling and the way all of this has come down, I realize that I was in a similar situation. I was a sinner by nature, and everything I did was unacceptable to a holy God. Humanly speaking there was no chance at all of redemption. I was hopelessly, irrevocably lost.
What awaited me made Donald Sterling's lifetime ban seem like a walk in the park. I deserved every bit of it. But...

That holy God loved me. Even though I had nothing that would cause him to look on me with favor, God loved me and Jesus died in my place. This not only made my redemption possible, it made it a finished fact. It is as if someone stepped up and took Donald Sterling's punishment and Sterling was accepted back into the league with open arms. Actually, it's a whole lot more amazing, and scandalous, than that. The Son of God came down, became a human like me, and died the death I should have died, so I could live. Now I am accepted in God's family with open arms as a beloved child. All of the inheritance that belongs to Jesus also is mine because I am now in Christ. It's not Fred anymore, trying and failing to be acceptable to God. It's now Christ living in me, and the Father's acceptance of his Son is now mine. I am redeemed!

There probably isn't any redemption for Donald Sterling from the NBA, or from society. The only redemption he could hope for would have to come from Christ. If you're reading this and realize that you are also a person without hope of redemption, I would encourage you to call on Jesus, the only One who can and will redeem.

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