Yesterday Michael Vick was given his second chance when he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. The inevitable ensuing firestorm of criticism was unleashed before the ink dried on the contract. Personally, I was thrilled to see him added to what appears to be a strong organization with a mindset to welcome him, encourage him, and keep him accountable.
Let me make three things clear about my perspective/worldview and then give my singular reason for being happy for Vick…
1. I do not in any way shape or form condone what Vick did. It was a series of brutal acts and decisions that rightly placed him in prison
2. I am bothered by the hypocrisy of “tolerance” in our society. The emperor clearly has no clothes. The truth about tolerance is that it is “live and let live” unless you kill dogs and then it is good luck finding a job a Burger King, and don’t let the door hit ya. It is another example that tolerance is not the goal, but a shift in values. It is as aggressive and narrow minded as any other set of values, but is for now accepted under the deceptive name of tolerance. Many gladly watched as Vick achieved idolotrous status playing a game. No one considered his character. No one required integrity of him. He was a commodity. When the bottom fell out of his life, and his stock went from bull to bear, we suddenly require of him what we have never required. The deification of athletes in this country makes many outcries for moral justice laughable. Let’s admit what it is: the golden calf broke in front of us, and when our idols show themselves to be flesh and blood instead of heroic providers of entertainment and cold hard cash we feel like we have egg on our face.
3. We are to care for all of God’s creation. It is a mandate given by God since the garden. BUT, when you are willing to damn people because of creation, dogs or otherwise, something has gone wrong.
The reason for my happiness is very simple. I am a follower of Jesus. The basis of that relationship is very simply his grace and mercy. It is necessary for me to admit that although I have never run a dog fighting business, my sin is no less despicable to God. I deserved and deserve judgment and justice, but I was given grace and hope. These truths are called the gospel, and represent the fact that God is presently busy redeeming all creation back to Himself.
I am thrilled for Vick because I love stories of redemption. I am thrilled for Vick because I love 2nd and 3rd and 4th chances, and find myself as the continual recipient of chances from my God. I am thrilled for Vick because if you or I found ourselves looking back at decisions we made that were horrific, and despicable, the only hope we would have is to find grace in people’s eyes. As a Christian, having received grace, I am not able, perhaps even not allowed to refuse another that grace. To force someone to live in, and wallow in their shame in the name of justice served by those will quickly forget his misdeeds after the first touchdown he scores in the playoffs has a very crooked feeling as a human being, and a very heretical feel as a follower of Jesus.
The base truth is that Vick should be given grace by you and I, but he shouldn’t need it. Justice was served. He went to prison after trial by his peers. The system worked. He lost everything. It is time to take your foot off of his throat. Call it grace, call it justice, call it redemption. But by all means do not feel full of vigor and morality when you make statements saying he should never be able to do this or that again…it doesn’t often represent a upright or just place, as much as does ignore a hypocrisy that we are free to speak of because we have never found ourselves in need of grace from a set of stranger the world over like Vick does.
Jesus said you can boil it all down to two things it is imperative all people do:
1. Love God
2. Love your neighbor as yourself. How would you like to be loved if you were Vick?