There are a plethora of falling and fallen heroes of late.
Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson being two of the most recent in the world of sports.
The element of these stories that is most astonishing to me is not the offense of the people who we look to as heroes, but rather our surprise that these people are capable of disappointing us. (for a related post, see Up on a Pedestal)
Maybe are surprised because of the amount of money they make. We have the flawed perspective that money perfects behavior.
What we forget is that money provides a false sense of self. Having money may cover brokenness in a bought exterior, but the person on the inside will be unaffected. If you were unhappy or angry before having money, you will be unhappy or angry after having it.
Another possible reason for our surprise may come from thinking that surely the affirmation of so many fans would perfect one’s values and beliefs.
Yet, as anyone who is followed could tell you, the affirmation of the crowd is more of a noose. Behavior is determined by what will keep the affirmation flowing. The crowd will love you as long as your perform. Otherwise, they will move on.
Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are first and foremost people. Broken bearers of the image of their Creator.
Fame and money will not redeem. They are false gospels. (see What is the Gospel?)
They will always demand more to sustain a sense of worth; the feeling of wholeness will have to continually be protected from going away, thus exposing shame that will need to be covered.
More than that, and another thing we are missing in the fall of our heroes, is the absence of forgiveness and restoration.
In a culture that is absent the Gospel, offenders are destined to wear the scarlet-letter label of failure.
When we place someone on a pedestal, and take away their humanity, when they fall they take away a part of our sense of who we are. This makes the offense unforgivable.
Then we demand penance. The former idol must prove their worthiness to have access to our redemption.
The sins of our heroes are real and they are significant. But, so are ours that have been covered in Christ. Redemption is available to these fallen heroes, it may require us to move past our disappointment and offer them the Gospel.
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