Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Looking for God... in Seattle?

A friend pointed me to THIS ARTICLE the other day. It tells the story of the Seattle Seahawks selecting Garrett Scott, from Marshall University, in the sixth round of the recent NFL Draft.

Shortly after being drafted the Seahawks put Scott through a routine physical examination. "Garrett's examination revealed a rare heart condition that will prevent him from any on-field participation in the near future," said Executive VP and General Manager John Schneider."

Now get this... AFTER discovering his heart condition, the Seahawks still signed Scott to his rookie contract. What does this mean? That means Scott receives his signing bonus and first-year salary totaling about $555,000. The Seahawks showed Scott grace... and it's a beautiful thing.

It's not like half a million dollars less tax replaces a young man's dreams of playing in the NFL. It doesn't. But this is a generous action from an organisation that had no motivation to do so. Since the NFL salary cap this year is a huge $133 million, Scott's $555,000 represents only about 0.4% of their overall budget this year. This generosity is still surprising given that the team is a profit making organization, not a charity.

In 2007 Dan Kimball wrote a book titled, They Like Jesus but not the Church. He describes a generation of young people seeking spirituality but turning away from the institutional trappings that they associate with "church". In their eyes organized religion has grown big, bureaucratic, political and better known for those it opposes than it is for a message of Good News.

How can churches overcome the negative stigma that many attach to the body of Christ? Strangely, I think the Seattle Seahawks provide an example.

Why was this story passed around the internet?
Because it demonstrated compassion. It showed generosity. It surprises us because we don't expect large institutions to care for individuals. People associate with the emotional pain Scott must feel and appreciate the thoughtfulness of those who allowed him to spend a couple of days as part of an NFL team.

People still respond to kindness, to compassion, to grace, to love. In recent years churches have apparently failed to establish ourselves as places where these Godly attributes not only can be found, but can be found in abundance. The heart of God will always attract people. Churches must do a better job of revealing God's heart to the world.

Perhaps we can still surprise the world with a message of hope, love, and grace in a world so devoid of such moments that a football team can provide a spark of inspiration. I pray that the next time I read a story of grace it will come from a church. Perhaps it will even be your church!

We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters.
If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.
1 John 3:16-18 (VOICE)

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