It Really Should Be No Surprise

It Really Should Be No Surprise

by Bill Cook

It really should be no surprise…really, that today’s athletes use performance-enhancing substances, umm…drugs. But, I am not going to talk about that. It should also not be a surprise that he thought he would get away with it because apparently, now, the news is that he was getting his fix from a clinic like another big star, Barry Bonds, where they thought and were told that there would be no charges pressed and were promised that their identities would be kept hidden. Alex Rodriguez (called A-Rod by the media) finds himself in a predicament he never thought he would have to face. But, I really wasn’t going to talk about that, either. Nor, should it be a surprise that many in the sports world want to run to his defense with a cacophony of reasons. And, as you may have guessed, I was not going to talk about that, either.

The surprise is this-I find it very interesting that many people who have no compunction about taking illegal drugs, find Mr. Rod’s actions distasteful. I find it very odd that those who are seemingly the loudest to condemn him are the very ones who engage in the same activities themselves. Why must a sports figure be held to a standard? Why must there be a standard? The very ones who proclaim that there are no standards for the way one lives, that no one should impose their will on others, that we are all free to live as we please without consideration for others or ourselves, are the same who want Mr. Rod and others to live and be compared to a standard where there are supposedly not supposed to be any.

Certainly the amount of press time that has been given to this is overwhelming, when, if as the ‘standard-haters’ proclaim, it should merely have been a collective sigh and acknowledgement that someone is living their lives the way they want to. Nay, it seems that Mr. Rod must live a life the others want him to. And, this ultimately begs the question-how, if there are no standards to live by, do ‘the others’ know what standard Mr. Rod should live by and where did they find it? If there is no standard, they should not be able to proclaim one. If there are no standards and someone made up a standard that Mr. Rod should live by and he breaks it, how would that standard be anywhere near to another’s standard? It should not be. And, yet, evidently, Mr. Rod is finding that a great many people hold him to a standard that they all collectively have somehow agreed upon.

Further, many evidently do not consider it impossible for Mr. Rod to live by their standard and even EXPECT him to live up to it and not stray from it. And, when he does not, they wish to pronounce judgment on him and say his respect for the game is tarnished, his play is tarnished, his life is tarnished, HE is tarnished, and ultimately he will be banished from the Hall of Fame.

SO WHAT?

Many of those same people who proclaim that standards do not matter and do not exist and yet have made one for Mr. Rod to live up to, are many of the same ones who say that God has no right to expect them to live a certain way.

Could it be that we have exposed ourselves to ourselves when we react in this way? Why do the fans want Mr. Rod to live up to their standard? They want him to be a role model. They respect someone who plays by the rules and is successful. They think if he can do it, perhaps they can do it.

Sound familiar? Christians claim that there is indeed a standard to live by and our greatest Champion is Jesus Christ. Not only do we believe that He committed no sin, but that He was faced with all the temptations to sin that we all face, and He still was able to resist.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (NASB95)

Mr. Rod could not live up to one simple rule-‘don’t take this banned substance’. In the life of every person, we must all realize that we cannot follow some seemingly simple rules and that we have broken the easy ones and the hard ones. The Bible calls that sin. It may be a religious term, but it is accurate. (Many today try to explain away things that sound religious as if it carried some disease with it)

“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…” Romans 3:23 (NASB95)

And, could it be that we can see the sins that we commit more easily in others than in ourselves? Lest we think too highly of ourselves, we may be given a particularly challenging situation to endure. Paul was…

“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself!” 2 Corinthians 12:7 (NASB95)

Like the ball players of today, Paul was a man who had experienced the esteem of his peers for most of his life. Ball players are told from a young age how wonderful they are and how they are destined for greatness. Some of them make it big; many can’t handle the pressure of the big leagues because they are EXPECTED to perform. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, a privileged Jew from a noble tribe, a veritable Who’s Who in the Jewish system. But, one day he was blinded and helpless; he was brought low on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9).

And still, we all seem to love the story of the one who had to endure the upbringing from modest beginnings, who had to struggle and claw their way in. We tend to view their journey as more authentic. Why? Who are we comparing that to? Could it be Jesus? Consider how He had to deal with being God and yet submitting to the utter humiliation of being born to a poor carpenter’s family. He worked with His hands to provide for His earthly family. And, when He was of age He began to rise in the Jewish system. It was not magic. He was a curiosity at first and then became highly respected because of His commitment to the knowledge of the Law-the big rule book of the Jews.

And, then, when the world waited for Him to fail He succeeded, He did not succumb to the pressure of the world system powered by His Enemy. He won the Ultimate victory and claimed it a win for all nations who would follow His ways. He even allowed Himself to stand in for others’ guilt and shame and took them away and, as the Bible says, “nailed them to the Cross”- Colossians 2:14

So, you, who say there are no standards, how are you living today? Whether you want to admit it or not, you can’t escape the standard.  You can say there is not one, but you would not be honest. Deep inside, many struggle to find the standard in life, in all things we hold most dear. Standards-they even exist where things are in the deepest parts of ourselves. None of us hold them perfectly, not even Mr. Rod. And, just as we expect Mr. Rod to keep the standard, God expects us to keep His. It really should be no surprise.

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