In most states, the highest paid employee of the state is the football coach at the largest state university. I’m pretty sure here in Mississippi, that means it’s Hugh Freeze. His name has been in the news a lot the past few years. Winning seasons, beating Alabama, the Sugar Bowl, and a looming NCAA investigation. And now, he remains in the news with his resignation yesterday from Ole Miss under the cloud of moral scandal.
There are a lot of things that one could say right now. But I keep coming back to this. One of the worst things about the age we live in is that people, especially well-known people, are forced to live our their failure in the public eye. Everyone knows what is “happening” or if not, the details will seep out. It will be blogged about (like I’m doing now), posted about on Facebook, Tweeted about, and talked about on the air and at the coffee shop.
No one should have the bear their shame publically. We can get into issues of public faith and things such as that, but I hate for anyone, from a well-known coach to your next-door neighbor, to have to live out their worst moment in the public eye.
I guess that’s why I always appeal to grace in all things. I think a lot about grace and God’s calls for us to live more faithfully. Grace is more than just God’s love for us, but it is also God’s empowerment for us to live a different life. I’m from the theological family of John Wesley (United Methodist) and I believe with all that I am and all that I can be that God calls us to be faithful. To grow daily. To become (gulp) holy, as He is holy. That’s a tall order that is not achieved through human will power, but through God’s grace within us. Grace is more than just God’s love and forgiveness. It is something that calls us forward, daily.
But it is, at it’s most basic level, God’s love and forgiveness. Paul said these words in 1 Timothy 1: 14-16:
14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Paul said I’m the foremost all sinners. Some translations say the “chief of all sinners.” Paul understood his sin. He knew that he was far from the person that God made him to be and called him to be. He kept walking towards it, but he knew that he was not there.
I think we mistake “morality” and “righteousness” in the church. Morality says this – “I’m a good person, and you (or they) are not.” Righteousness says this “we are all broken and sinful, and we all need Jesus. I am walking towards Him. Will you join me?” Morality draws a line between good and bad, and we pick sides. Righteousness says in the end, we are all in need of Jesus, and He loves, regardless.
Morality is the bane of the modern church, in my opinion. It makes us think of ourselves as better than we are. We are good, they (whoever they are) are bad. Righteousness is the words of Paul – “I am the chief of all sinners, and Christ saved me to show His patience and love.”
Hugh Freeze messed up. And he is having to live that out for all the world to see, laugh at, and gawk at. But he is no less loved by God at this moment than he was before. Just like you and me.
Today, let’s remember our need for Jesus and let’s remember Jesus love for us. Even in our worst, His grace is greater. And may love each other, even at worst, as He does.