A House Built on the Sand

Matthew 7:24-27

Much has been said already about the terrible situation unfolding at Penn State. Most of us are just short of speechless when we consider the atrocities reportedly inflicted upon those in our society we consider to be the most vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation.

L. Jon Wertheim and David Epstein of Sports Illustrated have written a revealing piece about a climate which fostered a “self righteous” and “insulated” environment where image trumped ethics. The result was endless justification without accountability. As you read the SI article, you begin to see what happens when we humans are elevated to a position of total control. The results inevitably turn ugly.

To me it is almost harder to come to terms with the failed response of an entire network of coaches, administrators, law enforcement and parents than it is to recognize the heinous crimes of Sandusky himself. From our perspective, it is almost easier to accept the reality of one man being a monster than a legion of respected agents of the public excusing themselves of the responsibility of stopping him.

The warning thread between the lines of the SI article is how quietly and subtly traditions and moral codes morph into lies and deception, even with the best intentions. Once again, we observe the human tendency of discerning right and wrong on our own terms.

It is not popular to say in our culture, but the reality is our natural tendency is to sin. We are not inherently good. We don’t gravitate toward righteousness. The bible clearly indicates such and I am consistently surprised at how our culture continues to expect “this” time will be different.

Frustration and anger is likely a reasonable response to the terrible acts committed by Jerry Sandusky. However, as we seek to understand what went wrong in the culture at Penn State to allow such crimes to be committed over such a long period of time, possibly we can use an ounce of humility and come to terms with the reality of our inability to do good on our own.

A house built by human hands is susceptible to human error. As Alexander Pope so eloquently put; “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” As the Penn State tragedy unfolds before us, we are provided a glimpse into how simply unbelievable God’s grace is in that He continually forgives our endless cycle of sin. He is not surprised by our failures, even when we are.

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