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Friday, February 6, 2009

Hero worship

Once again, we have a reminder that our idols have feet of clay. The Michael Phelps/bong picture "scandal" has unleashed all kinds of articles bemoaning the lack of good role models for our children. This is so true, but only because we are looking in the wrong places. The story reminded me of a passage I read not too long ago.

"God wasn't at all pleased; but he let them do it their way, worship every new god that came down the pike—and live with the consequences, consequences described by the prophet Amos:

Did you bring me offerings of animals and grains
those forty wilderness years, O Israel?
Hardly. You were too busy building shrines
to war gods, to sex goddesses,
Worshiping them with all your might.
That's why I put you in exile in Babylon. (Acts 7:42-43)...

..."And you continue, so bullheaded! Calluses on your hearts, flaps on your ears! Deliberately ignoring the Holy Spirit, you're just like your ancestors...You had God's Law handed to you by angels—gift-wrapped!—and you squandered it!" (Acts 7:51-53)

These days, I think maybe we could substitute "athletes" for "war gods" and "movie stars" for "sex goddesses". And make no mistake, our family watches more than its share of athletic events and movies. My husband is a huge sports fan.

We can respect the skill these people exhibit, but we are destined to be disappointed if we are looking to people to be our heros or idols...people make mistakes, people are "only human". Only God and Jesus are perfect. Thank God for His mercy and forgiveness in the times that we fail. He is the One to Whom we should look as our role model.

And yet...why is it so much easier to yell, clap, and cheer at a sporting event or concert than at church? For me, anyway. Because, I think, many of us spend much more time focusing on what we can see before us than we do thinking about the things of God which we take on faith.

I wish Michael Phelps the best, and I thank him for the reminder that, while we can admire Phelps's swimming, he's only a man who swims well. Rather than being disillusioned by his problems, I hope that the children who look up to him turn their eyes instead to Jesus as our example of a true hero.

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