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Points to Ponder: The Name You Bear

Points to Ponder
The Name You Bear

When I see a boy wearing a professional football-style jersey, I can tell he's a fan of a particular team. Usually there's a name and a number on the back; that's his hero (at least one of them). Interesting practice, wearing the name of a ballplayer and his team's shirt. As a kid, my dad warned me about groups I shouldn't be in and specific boys I shouldn't hang out with. Why? As Paul puts it:
"Bad company corrupts good habits" (I Corinthians 15:33).
Certain names in the neighborhood carried a certain reputation with it; being too close with them could bring a negative influence and possibly a destructive outcome. With that lesson in mind, I wonder about today's heroes, whose names our impressionable children wear so proudly. Admiring their performance on the field is one thing; but what about their performance in life.
I saw a boy with "McNair" on the back of his Ravens shirt. I went to Google to read up on McNair - the late Steve McNair. A 36-year-old father of four boys and married, was shot to death by his 20-year-old mistress. She then killed herself,. Apparently he spent many nights with her and even had both of their names on the title of the SUV he had bought her.
I read the multiple pages of comments that followed the news articles. Few spoke of the murder/suicide. Some commentaries sounded like we'd lost a war hero in Iraq, cut down in the prime of life. Most were about McNair as the star ballplayer; a "Superman," said one; a man devoted to his team and winning the game. Only a couple of bloggers directly confronted the fact that this "hero" was a liar, cheating on his wife and his sons. McNair himself told someone he enjoyed being a "role model" to young people. Did he say that on his way home to his wife or on his way home to his girlfriend? Why are his words and this blatant life-style choice (which cost him his life) so disconnected? Does the boy who wears that name on his back realize that the once-living legend is also the now-dead adulterer? Should it matter? I'm just wondering, if Steve McNair had just gone home to his wife and played with his boys, he'd still be alive. A 20-year-old waitress may have met a different man, one who didn't belong to someone else. She'd probably still be alive now too.
But they are dead. Four boys and a widow and a young woman's family grieve. And fans talk about the great loss to football. A boy wears the name on his back. Why do all of these thoughts seem disconnected, disconcerting?
I recall aerial footage of a white Bronco fleeing the police, driven by former football great and Heisman Trophy winner, O. J. Simpson. He was a suspect in the stabbing death of his former wife and her friend. As he fled, I observed people along the roadside cheering him on; some holding signs, "Go Juice!" Two people are dead and the murder suspect has a fan club cheering his escape. You don't see that everyday. Why with O.J.? He was a sport's hero.
What does this kind of worship by fans do to the athletes who make it big? Some already had big egos going in, but what is happening? This growing line up of unfaithful stars can lead any team to triumph at any cost, except the one at home. And that is the one performance stat we prefer to ignore. God, however, does not ignore it.
If you are ever so tempted and feel invincible, notice how Tiger Woods has been exemplifying the warning in scripture, just as others have before him.
"For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes into his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent ... Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away" (Proverbs 6:26-29 and 32-33).
What can we learn from this? A person who "has it all," incredible talent, millions of dollars, a beautiful wife and children, can still be a fool. You can have everything you've ever dreamed of and live a nightmare. There is no hunger pang like poverty of the soul. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
So beware of the name you bear on your back. More importantly, treasure the Name which is above every name, in your heart: "...there is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
There is hope for every desperate sinner in Christ.
Someone has said: "Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a Future." It's in the Name you choose to bear.

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles (and sermons) are also found at Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 7:50pm, both days.

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