If you read any of my musing or know of my doctoral studies, you know that I’m interested in redemption. “Duh!” you say? Yes, I get news feeds about it, I have a Google reader query set up to look for articles on it, and I write about it regularly. Since starting this journey, I think this has been one of the most challenging parts of my faith walk. My reading and searching and writing is singularly focused on capturing the true spirit of what Christ did through His death for us on the cross in specific and tangible ways, without turning the amazing work of the Almighty God into my personal self-promotion.
I see the redemptive work of God as another in a series of kingdom principles on display, whether mankind notices or does not. Things for example like those principles highlighted by Jesus in the Beatitudes in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 5 (things like hungering and thirsting for righteousness, or showing mercy – see also Matthew 6:14-15). Or how about the principle of giving or reciprocity (“Give, and it will be given to you …” from Luke 6:38). That is why I am passionate about searching out examples of God’s redemptive work, or redemptive actions which reflect the goodness of God as shown to us. These actions may not be exact models of the work of God, but may be inspired by someone who has drawn close to God or faith, and is showing in a recipricating manner the same mercy shown to them.
But this is also why I go a little crazy with the commercialization of the term redemption, and how everyone is seeking redemption through comebacks or through second chances to beat opponents, but not through the one means alone by which we can obtain it. Today in some background searches online, and really through praying for some folks who have suffered embarassment due to bad choices, I came upon a newer news story which followed the reinstatement to the sports world of the former Olympic sprinter Marion Jones. Jones was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs and denied this for years, but in 2007 she admitted her usage and had to suffer not only the return of her awards and the vacating of her wins but also a short prison stay. I thought Ms. Jones was sincere in her recanting of her previous denials upon admitting her drug usage. Today I read something very interesting in the following article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/10/marion-jones-to-wnba-olym_n_493772.html.
Ms. Jones has been given a second chance to use her gifts playing professional basketball. I am happy for her getting this opportunity, as I am any time God forgive me and cleansing me from my own stupid mistakes (1 John 1:9). Ms. Jones was apparently a fine basketball player in college, and this is a wonderful second chance for her. But in the interview after signing to play for this WNBA team, Jones made this statement: “The word redemption is not in my vocabulary.”
I applaud this basketball team for giving Ms. Jones a chance to earn a living and come out from under the disgrace. Ms. Jones says that she is a competitor and really doesn’t want people’s help or for people to pity her. I just think with all that the Lord is doing in her life, she needs a new vocabulary.