One of the regular parts of my morning routine is listening to sports talk radio. While I spend time in front of the mirror shaving I like to listen to Mike and Mike. I find that sports is both a distraction and a reasonable reflection of our culture. I must also admit that I like sports, especially football.
This morning as I was shaving I heard about an incident involving Johnny Manziel. For anyone who might have been in a cryogenic sleep the last two years or so; Manziel is a rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. He has a tremendous amount of ability, and an ego to match. Manziel is a polarizing figure...you either love him or you don't. It seems that Manziel has been in the news more for his lifestyle than his ability over the last few months. That's not a good thing, at least in my opinion.
During a recent preseason game Manziel made an obscene gesture towards the opposing team's sideline. Not a smart thing to do, especially when you are the visiting team. When asked about the gesture during the post game press conference Manziel attempted to downplay his actions. Needless to say those actions have been the talk of sports radio this morning. Johnny Manziel can't seem to understand that the spotlight he's living under is harsh, unforgiving, and never turned off. His actions will only hurt his team and himself.
Manziel claims to be a Christian, and I'm not here to debate the relative merits of his faith claim. But I do want to consider for a moment the reality of the life that Manziel lives and its comparison to our own. Each of us is a billboard that displays much more about us than we would like to admit. Johnny Manziel can't seem to allow his talent to overcome his character struggles. The sad truth is that we are all like him, struggling to balance character, talent, and expectations.
Please understand that I am not talking about perfection....I talking about living honestly. We will make mistakes. Hopefully not as severe as Manziel's, but we will make mistakes all the same. We need to live in a way that owns up to our shortcomings and displays the grace and forgiveness that are ours through Jesus. The best Christians are the ones who get up after falling down, seek forgiveness and make amends to those who they have wronged. In short, they demonstrate the presence of the Holy Spirit and the character of Jesus.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 "Let your light before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." That's a tall order that is much more difficult that it might seem. The world is always watching....no matter the venue; work, play, school, home, even the football field. Our every word, every gesture and action are on display and are seen and evaluated by those who see us. Pastors aren't the only ones who live in fishbowls: quarterbacks and moms and you and me do too.
So today when you mess up...and we all will. Simply confess, make amends and keep trying. I think we will all find that we will escape being the subject of talk radio.