My two favorite college football teams have been rocked by scandals in the past seven months. First, it was Penn State. Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, was accused of sexually assaulting young boys. University trustees felt head coach, Joe Paterno, didn’t do enough to stop Sandusky, so they fired him. Joe died of lung cancer a couple months later.
Then earlier this week, Arkansas head coach, Bobby Petrino, was involved in a motorcycle accident. He suffered four broken ribs, a cracked vertebrae and some cuts and bruises on his face. What wasn’t known until yesterday was that he’d also had a passenger with him, 25 year-old, Jessica Dorrell, a young woman he’d recently hired to work in the football program. Last night, Petrino admitted to an “inappropriate relationship” with her. Petrino is now on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of athletic director, Jeff Long’s, investigation.
I was saddened and disappointed by the Penn State situation and I feel the same way now. If there’s one lesson that comes from these two situations, it’s this: sin destroys.
Bobby Petrino, despite a 21-4 record over the past two seasons, could end up losing his job. He has brought shame and embarrassment on himself, his family and the University of Arkansas. And sadly, the woman with whom he had the “inappropriate relationship” was engaged to be married soon. The website that contained the details of her wedding has now been taken down.
Sin destroys. It destroys us and those around us. The consequences may not always be immediate or even noticeable, but that only means sin is doing it’s destructive work unnoticed, in secret. For now anyway.
Sin destroys. It’s a promise.
Before the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River to occupy the land God had promised to them, Moses told them:
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time. (Deuteronomy 4:39-40)
God’s commands aren’t meant to rob of us of a good time, they’re meant to provide for us and protect us. They teach us how to live so that “it may go well” with us. The Author of life knows best how it should be lived. He knows that when we stray from Him and go our own way, the result is destruction. We see that destruction all around us, everyday.
There is good news though.
Today is Good Friday. It’s the day Jesus was betrayed and unjustly put to death. It’s the day my sin was put on the One who knew no sin. Jesus was put to death for the sin I committed. He took the punishment I had earned. He took my punishment and in exchange gave me His right standing before His Father.
I deserved death, but was given life.
I was an enemy of God, but through the death of Jesus, I became His child and His friend. I have peace with God through Christ.
What sin destroys, God redeems.
Yes, sin is destructive and carries with it consequences, but God is greater than the destructive force of sin. And He can even take the terrible consequences of our sin and use them for our ultimate good…if only we will turn from going our own way and begin to walk according to His ways.
Should Bobby Petrino still be allowed to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks? Well, he doesn’t really deserve to, does he? How can he, with any credibility, tell his players to be men of character after he betrayed the trust of his wife, his supervisor and the people of Arkansas?
But you and I are also guilty of betrayal, aren’t we? We betrayed Jesus. And instead of the punishment we deserve, by grace we’ve received forgiveness.
I don’t know what should happen with Coach Petrino. I just know I’m not able to throw the first stone. I’m a man in need of grace myself.
My hope is that Coach Petrino would come to know the forgiveness of Christ, because I care far more about his soul and his marriage than about how many games he wins.
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)