“If God is for us, who can stand against us?” retorted Ray Lewis to a reporter’s question about how he won the Super big game played in a stadium shaped like a Bowl. Really Ray?! Honestly I was a little pissed. What a stupid thing to say. What bad theology. Do you really believe God picked you, Ray? Forget about Mr. Lewis’s well documented trouble with the law or his pregame hysterics. Put aside any personal like or dislike for the now retired linebacker for the Ravens. It was this ridiculous statement that irked me and caused me to make that disapproving “tisk” sound through my teeth like a Midwestern grandmother.
The humor twitter account Unvirtuous Abbey may have tweeted it best:
After my judgmental cacophonous noise making, I instantly thought about Jim Harbaugh, the losing coach of the big game. Following Ray’s line of thinking, the God of the universe pre-ordained John Harbaugh (coach of the winning Ravens) to defeat his brother Jim in a football game. I’m not sure who is Cain and who is Abel in this, but the logic follows that Jim is God’s enemy and John is the righteous and worthy champion of goodness and light. Come to think of it, the entire 49ers organization must be fallen rebels, akin to Lucifer and his cohorts. Who can stand against Ray Lewis and God? Not the 49ers, the devils they are.
Fully pleased with my exaggerated self-righteousness, and even more pleased that I kept it to myself and only privately judged this man and his words, I promptly turned off the TV and played Ruzzle for 45 minutes. But something wasn’t right. Maybe it was the nachos or homemade honey mustard sauce, or maybe it was that still small voice that speaks to the deepest parts of ourselves when we haven’t uncovered God’s full story, but something wasn’t letting me rest comfortably in my righteous indignation.
Finally I found it. Ray is half right. God is for Ray Lewis. God desires the absolute best for Ray. God loves Ray Lewis beyond measure. God is also for Jim Harbaugh, even though he didn’t win the shiny football trophy. God is for the 24,000 children who will die today from preventable diseases resulting from unclean drinking water. I have no doubt God will weep for them. God will also weep because we didn’t do anything to stop it.
God is for me. God is for you.
Ray is also half wrong. God doesn’t love Ray more than Colin Kaepernick. God didn’t choose the Ravens over the 49s.
Fortune doesn’t equal blessing.
God doesn’t prove his love for us through worldly fortune. To believe that is to say God doesn’t love the poor, vulnerable, marginalized, abused, hungry, thirsty, or dying. To say that is stupid and bad theology. Quite frankly it goes against everything Jesus said and did.
God is for all of us and no one can stand against us, and sometimes we lose. God being for us doesn’t always look like winning. Jesus on the cross didn’t look like winning. God is for us, when it comes to what is best for us. Winning the Championship might not be what is best for us.
And here is the key; God has bigger plans for us than our earthly mini-battles. God has bigger plans for Ray Lewis than football champion. I’m not talking about Ray retiring and becoming a minister or founding a youth sports organization or helping out families in Baltimore. I’m talking about forever.
God’s big plan for all of us is heaven. God being for us is only completed and perfectly experienced in heaven, forever. God is for us spending that forever with him in eternal praise and total bliss. God is for us experiencing the beatific vision.
God is for us going to heaven. When we choose God, nothing can stop us from spending forever with Him.
I started out thinking: “Boom! Ray Lewis just got roasted!” I ended up thinking: “Dang, I just got put in my place.” Thanks for a great insightful read 🙂
Thanks Kristin. This was exactly my experience. Moving from “Gotcha Ray!” to “God is for everyone even those who are wrong about God” was humbling.
I think when Ray used that verse he was speaking about all the adversity, trials and tribulations that him and the team had faced this year. They made it through all of that with Gods help and yet they still were the world champions in the end. When God is for them those trials and the adversity could not stop them from focusing on their careers. It drew them closer as a team and as a family.
Ashley, Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate your take on Ray Lewis’s statement. Awesome that you heard it with such generous ears. By the end of the article I am trying to say that Ray Lewis is correct in that God is for him. If he wanted to state that with God’s help he overcame adversity, great! But he didn’t say that. He stated that God favored him and kept his opponent from standing against him. Not great theology. No matter what he meant, his theological statement was ambiguous at best and a reckless portrayal of God at worst. Clearly Mr. Lewis cares deeply about spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. For someone who wants to talk about God all the time, I would hope with 100s of millions watching, he would do so more carefully and clearly.