There he was. Hood up, shoulders down, slouched in a chair not giving an ounce of eye contact to a soul in the room. From the most powerful and visible sports platform in the world, the seemingly invincible Cam Newton was showing the world his worst. He looked like a punk. Like a disrespectful punk. And yet God, the same God who forgave you and I of our sin, looked upon Cam with eyes searching for something different than what we humans do. Supernaturally scanning the situation, God peered closely at the young man, looking for the slightest crevice he could find to begin giving the man what no one would after this event.
With supernatural eyes He looked upon Cam Newton not in judgement, but love. With every irreverent, under the breath answer Cam spoke, God whispered, “I love you.” As Cam exited the podium in what seemed like complete disrespect to the sports media (it would later be revealed Cam could hear a Denver player talking about their game plan to test Newton’s pass-making ability that spurred the early exit), God whispered, “I love you.” As the locker room slowly emptied and Cam sat dejected on a stool, God whispered, “I love you.” In the shower……”I love you.” Getting dressed……..”I love you.” Riding home…..”I love you.” Again and again, God would begin showing Cam Newton why He is God and why God is Love.
Why? Why on earth would God love such an arrogant, prideful, narcissistic athlete who seems to have the temperament of child? Why would he love someone who so readily celebrates during victory, but wants no part of it in defeat? Why would God love someone who can dish it out and not take it?
As you ponder the answers to those questions, I’m going to take a moment. Jesus just showed up with a stick in His hand and is drawing in the sand. I can’t quite make out what He’s writing, but……oh wait a minute….He’s going to say something.
“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at him.” And once more Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones. (contextual adaptation from John 8)
Wow, that was pretty in your face don’t you think? Let’s see, am I without sin? Hmmm, the answer is a pretty easy… no. I’m arrogant at times. Prideful at times. Even narcissistic in certain moments of my life I guess. And, if I were to be totally transparent, my temperament even resembles that of a child in situations I would just as soon forget. Hmmmm, this isn’t going too well. Wait a minute, Jesus is saying something else to Cam………
Jesus was left alone with Cam Newton standing before him. “Cam, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Cam said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (contextual adaptation from John 8)
Translation: Psssssssss. “I love you Cam.”
Ok, so let me get this straight. Jesus’ role is to forgive. Our role is to not condemn. And Cam’s role is to sin no more.
I’m confident God will take care of the first.
Praying that Cam will be inspired to achieve the last.
But how are we doing on the middle one?
With stones in our hand, have we become so spiritually numb that we’ve elected to throw stones instead of drop them? So prideful to forget there was perhaps a time in many of our lives where dare I say…gulp……………….we were Cam Newton (there was in my life for sure). It may have looked different and undoubtably wasn’t on the most visible stage on the planet, but at some point in our lives, and maybe in times to come, we were and are Cam Newton.
So let’s give him the same grace we were given. Let’s bestow unconditional love to a person who does not deserve it right now. I get it, believe me I know it’s hard. I know the easy thing to do is throw the stone. It’s much harder to drop it. It’s even more difficult to release the stone and love the person. But that’s grace. That’s what make Jesus unique, special and all together different than any other false god. He shows up and offers love and grace when no one will. In our lives, and yes, in Cam Newton’s life as well. John Stott explains grace this way, “Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.”
I’m not sure where you side on this polarizing issue, but I’m thinking it’s time to get off my own high horse, stoop a little and rescue superman.
It’s time for grace.