Tuesday, September 9, 2014

When the Other Shoe Drops

Last February, video was released showing Baltimore Raven Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée from a casino elevator. The NFL saw the tape and suspended Rice for the first two games of the 2014 NFL season.

Now the other shoe has dropped.

Early Monday morning TMZ released security video footage from inside that elevator. All that morning "Ray Rice" was trending number one on Twitter. Most tweets were calling for the Ravens to release Rice. Others wondered why everyone was so shocked by the violence on the video; there must have been a reason she was unconscious when he dragged her out from behind the closed doors of the elevator.

But seeing the deed on video somehow made it more damning. Staring down that video evidence the Ravens had no choice but to release Rice Monday afternoon; the NFL commissioner had no choice but to suspend him indefinitely; every other NFL team considers him radioactive; and now Rice faces the very distinct possibility he has played his last NFL football game a month before he took his fiancée to that casino.

But what if you stood in Rice's place? Each of us has done shameful things "behind closed doors." How would you feel if your darkest deeds were somehow secretly recorded and then shown to the whole world? Makes me real glad I'm not a celebrity.

The trouble is there actually is Someone who knows every dark, shameful thing I've ever done or said, even behind closed doors. What's more, His record doesn't just include the things I've done and said; it shows the very thoughts, desires and attitudes that were lying behind those deeds and sayings. I may shudder to think of the world's shock and outrage if it could look into my heart and mind, but what about standing face to face with my Creator and God and facing His wrath and rage?

We can bury our head in the sand and convince ourselves there is no Creator and Judge. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we are here by chance or the coincidences of evolution. It's easy to bury our deep, dark secrets and convince ourselves they will never see the light of day. Maybe that's what Ray Rice thought: two games' suspension and it would all be over. But that tape was still out there, and no wishful thinking could make it go away -- just like God's knowledge of our sins.

That's the toughest part of confession: to stand before our God in honesty, our sins exposed, our hands stained with blood. But the incredible thing is God's answer. It isn't shock and outrage. It isn't God calling for our heads. That's because 2,000 years ago Jesus took Ray Rice's place, your place, and my place, and suffered God's wrath on the cross -- for us. Now God's answer is forgiveness, peace, restoration.

Ray Rice is paying a huge price for what he did in that elevator, and that penalty may well follow him throughout his earthly life. But Jesus Christ paid the greater price for him. The risen Lord offers him forgiveness and the certainty that our Heavenly Father will never reject him or cut him loose, but receive him into an eternal home far more glorious than anything the NFL could ever offer.

That offer stands for you and me as well.

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