Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly blog which examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of Christian spirituality and sport.
“When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They got up, drove Him out of town and brought Him to the edge of the hill their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff”-Luke 4:28-29
The reaction was strong. He was condemned and lauded based on what he had to say. I am not only referring to Jesus above but also to a hockey player in the National Hockey League (NHL) in the USA.
Ivan Provorov plays in the NHL on a team called the Philadelphia Flyers, who last week wore on their uniforms during the pre-game warm up, symbols in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Provorov refused to join his teammates, citing his religious beliefs as a Russian Orthodox Christian. He did not give a speech but simply said that he wanted to stay true to himself and to his religion.
In today’s rights-centred world, it is hardly surprising that his words divided opinion. Some saw it is commendably bold, while others saw it as inciting hate. For Provorov, he just wanted the freedom to choose what he would do in those circumstances. He reaffirmed listeners that he respected everyone but that he also felt convicted to stay loyal to his faith.
Did he get it right? The answer to that question may very well prompt a further question: right in whose eyes? You see, questions of ethics, morality and justice are no longer as clearcut as they used to be. While some issues like abortion have been controversial for a long time, today’s culture is a lot more sensitive to freedom of choice and personal autonomy. Decisions are more closely scrutinized than in previous years.
It happened to Jesus in Luke 4 above. Ironically, just a few verses earlier Luke noted that the people “were all speaking well of Him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from His mouth.” Yet, it was not that long afterwards that the same crowd wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff! Indeed, this is the divisive and the comforting nature of words.
Pause. Think. Consider. Reflect. Pray. Then speak with courage.
If you were inspired by this blog, please consider sharing it with one other person today. To learn more about these and other related themes that promote the cultivation of an integrated inner self, read UNBEATABLE! which is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book.