August is the worst month of the year. It’s really hot and really boring; basketball is over, baseball doesn’t get interesting until October, and football is still painfully slow in arriving.
This is why the top story on SportsCenter every night is something absolutely worthless -- like an injury update or a recycled off-the-field incident. This just in: Tom Brady has a cold, Johnny Manziel still likes to party, and baseball players lie about steroids. Yawn.
But these latest steroid revelations have exposed something darker, something more sinister about the lengths humans are willing to go to protect what they believe gives them value. Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong literally sued people, ruining their professional and financial lives for telling the truth about his steroid use. National League MVP Ryan Braun accused a urine collector of mishandling his sample and being anti-Semitic when he failed his drug test. Perennial All-Star Alex Rodriguez allegedly leaked information about other steroid users (including his own teammate) in order to gain leverage to reduce his own drug suspension.
If these pathetic August headlines tell us anything, it’s that we’re all searching for salvation; we’re all desperately trying to justify our existence and there is no length to which we will not go in order to protect that.
The Bible clearly lays out our options from the Ten Commandments to Romans: we serve and worship the true God (the Creator), or we serve and worship false gods (created things). That’s it; there are no other options. The former leads to satisfaction, peace and life; the latter leads to anxiety, destruction and death.
The scary thing about false gods is that they can literally be anything. Overt, universally negative things like racial superiority, violence against children, and slavery have crept into societies before, successfully demanding worship. And perhaps even scarier, quaint, normal, innocent things like baseball seem to have the same capacity to turn heroes into villains.
False gods always take and never give. They appear inviting, even beautiful, and yet are vicious taskmasters mercilessly screaming, “serve me or die.” Case in point - if you stake your entire self-worth, personal value, and public reputation on your success on a baseball field, of course you’ll do anything to protect it. It is a functional savior.
Our Savior is not like that. He didn’t come seeking service; He came to be a service. He didn’t come as a conquering king demanding loyalty or death. He came as a servant, carrying our burdens and washing our feet. Our Savior doesn’t take, he gives. Jesus does not stand over us shouting, “be better, do more!” He hangs on a cross and with his last breath screams, “It is finished!”
Because we don’t have to earn anything, we’re free to give. Because we don’t have to prove anything, we can rest. Because our burdens have been lifted we can carry others’.
This is good news and it should get us through the rest of August.