“People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent” Bob Dylan
Last week news came out that Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State Buckeye’s football team, knew about several players selling items to a tattoo artist almost 8 months before reporting it to the NCAA. When the NCAA found out about the students in December they were promptly suspended for the first 5 games of the 2011 season. At that time Ohio State was preparing to play Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. Anyone interested in college football knows that the bowl games generate a lot of money for the schools. Jim Tressel went to the 5 students and told them that if they wanted to play in the bowl game that they had to promise not to enter the NFL draft and return for the following season to face their punishment; forcing the students to be accountable for their actions. At that time, Tressel said he wanted to make sure that the players wouldn’t “skirt the consequences” by playing in the Sugar Bowl, then declaring for the NFL draft and avoiding any punishment. “We told them they would have to make the decision on the NFL prior to leaving for the bowl game,” Tressel said at his first Sugar Bowl news conference. “It wouldn’t be fair to not face the consequences down the road.”
During his news conference the day the information came out Jim Tressel said “I felt at the time as if I was doing the right thing for the safety of the young people and the overall situation.” But not once during his entire news conference did he ever say “I’m Sorry”. So what does this teach his players, coaches, and millions of fans about accountability and responsibility? What does it say for the coach of one of the most recognized and revered college football programs, who up till this point was seen as the guy who was above all the other corruption, to come out and play dumb on the rules? His entire career will now be re-evaluated and defined under new terms. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes, “It takes less time to do the right thing than to explain why you did it wrong.”
So my question now is “Is Christianity going in the same direction as college football?” Have we created a system where we can say “I was doing what I felt was right in the best interest of God” to justify our own hypocrisy? Two weeks ago the news story was Westboro Baptist Church winning a legal battle for the right to protest and shout hate speech at military funerals; all in the name of “Christianity”. Last week I saw an article about a group of Christians who showed up to protest against a pro-Islam rally at the White House. When they got there, the other group had cancelled so they decided to make fun of a Muslim gentleman who had come to pray outside of the White House. This goes on day after day. All of the good that millions of impassioned followers of Jesus do is overshadowed by those who use that same moniker to judge, condemn, and hate. But it’s gets even simpler than that.
Has Christianity created this false front that must be put to a stop? We tell those that we witness to that they must stop smoking, quit drinking, quit watching movies with sex or foul language in it, and have daily devotions. All the while those preaching that may do the complete opposite. They believe its okay for them because they don’t feel it’s a stumbling block towards their own personal relationship with Christ; however they don’t want anyone to know that they do it because they know they would be seen as a hypocrite. But if it’s not wrong for you, than it’s not wrong for anyone else!
One of my favorite quotes is from Brennan Manning and he says “The greatest single cause of Atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply find unbelievable.” Jesus spoke often about the unfair burdens of the Pharisees and how His yoke was light. Are we back to placing a burden on the world that is unreasonable? Are we asking others to do things that we only find wrong for them? Are we willing to change our lifestyles before we expect others to change theirs? Are we truly practicing what we preach?