I have written here about the redemption stories of famous and fallen people, great and small in wallet and in status. Some of the more interesting stories have revolved around the question of sports offering an opportunity for a type of “redemption” to its participants.
The biggest story in the earliest part of the NFL season was the restoration and “redemption” tour of Michael Vick. Several of my earlier posts documented this process and our expectations (see “Look at what God can do” from October 17th).
The stories which are most fascinating to me now are the redemption stories about “Big Ben” Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. There have been more than a few stories about the change in this man since his forced suspension due to allegations of sexual misconduct (not proved).
I’d like to highlight here three stories related to Ben and Redemption, which seem to offer some balance on how the term is applied in Ben’s case (article 1); with two other articles from those outside of the “Christian” circle seeking to really make sense of the man and his circumstances and redemption.
Article 1: by LZ Granderson – Ben Roethlisberger’s redemption (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/commentary/news/story?id=6045429). A more balanced view of life and football and a sense of what redemption is apart from the game.
Article 2: by Martin Fennelly – Hard to cheer for Roethlisberger’s so-called redemption (http://tbo.ly/fon4dF).Seems to be the most critical, and questioning of the “Christian” language used in his interactions with Ben.
Article 3: by Cathal Kelly – Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger: Anti-hero or Villain? (http://www.thestar.com/sports/football/article/932482–kelly-the-indolent-redemption-of-big-ben). Probably the most honest in observing the circumstances and weighing any changes in the man, and the appearance of no change masked by aloofness.
In reading these stories and with my great interest in the subject, my question for myself and anyone who might really read this is: what should this redemption look like? One author pointed to Michael Vick and gauged the changes seen in the man as more of a sign of true repentance and transformation. While another challenges Ben’s using the “Blessed” word maybe too often, and wondering whether a change has actually taken place (the last author realistically suggesting no real change had taken place).
Does redemption need to be something others see in us, or is it enough that we know of what Christ has done? A good question, and one that a few minutes and a few selected verses may not completely answer.
“In the Old Testament, redemption involves deliverance from bondage based on the payment of a price by a redeemer. By the first century AD the concept of redemption had become eschatological. Redemption of Israel from Egypt was but the foreshadowing in history of the great act of deliverance by which history would be brought to an end. In rabbinic expectation the Messiah would be the Redeemer of Israel, and the great Day of the Lord would be the day of redemption” (Elwell, W. (1996). Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology).
According to Elwell (1996) quoted above, “The New Testament makes clear that divine redemption includes God’s identification with humanity in its plight, and the securing of liberation of humankind through the obedience, suffering, death, and resurrection of the incarnate Son.” It would seem that something as dramatic as this divine liberation from bondage would evoke more from us than camouflaged Christian language and a return to the same behavior as we were in prior to this revelation.
One last thought (from http://home.clara.net/arlev/redempti.htm): (1) Something or someone was in bondage; freedom was non-existent. (2) A redeemer got involved where the helpless bond-slave could do nothing. (3) a price was paid to release this bond-slave from their bondage. They could not pay this price; and they did not earn the release. (4) Freedom swelled in to the gaping hole left by the bondage, like waves into a sand tunnel carved out on the beach. The release was complete, total, and final.
That is what redemption looks like. Any questions?